Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 18, 2016

Bad day for CCA

Justice Department Says It Will Stop Using Private Prisons

The Justice Department plans to phase out use of private prisons, a move that affects a small percentage of the nation’s prisoners but could signal a broader effort to get states to follow suit.

The decision was outlined in a memo from U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on Thursday, who said private prisons compare poorly to those run by the government.

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs, and…they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,’’ Ms. Yates said.  - The Wall Street Journal  (subscription)

Financial Chaos

Audit finds chaotic financial management at Tennessee's Achievement School District

It's in charge of turning around Tennessee's failing schools, but the state's Achievement School District now has its own flunking grade from state Comptroller watchdogs.

The just-released audit by the Division of State Audit provides a blistering critique into what auditors say the agency's lack of internal financial controls over basic functions.

So just how bad are things at the agency that directly manages five public schools and contracts with private charter groups to operate 24 other schools falling into the bottom five percent of schools statewide in terms of student performance?

Even as Division of State Audit accountants' examination was still underway this spring, the state Department of Education, which had allowed the ASD to operate independently, informed the Comptroller's office in April that it had staged an intervention and seized control over the ASD's "fiscal and federal processes."

As a result, the functions were transferred from Memphis to Nashville with a turnover of the ASD's financial staff. Education Commissioner Candice McQueen's staff told auditors they were hiring a fiscal director, fiscal manager, accountant, account tech, federal programs director and federal programs manager.

Problem areas cited by the Division of State Audit ranged from loose controls over spending, travel and credit cards to insufficient monitoring of the actual schools that ASD runs or contracts out.  - Chattanooga Times Free Press (subscription)

No hurry, soon come

Testing Executives Try To Reassure Tennessee Lawmakers About Online Exams

The firm brought in to run Tennessee's student testing program is telling lawmakers that it won't rush the transition to online exams.

Executives with Minneapolis-based Questar Assessment hope to reassure legislators that last year's botched rollout was an aberration. The ballyhooed, new, online TNReady exams crashed during the spring testing period, forcing the entire project to be scrapped for the year.

Questar chief executive Jamie Candee says it's been running online tests for a decade and won't make the same mistakes. "We'll be very transparent and very visible in the state," she said at a legislative hearing on Wednesday. "We're here to support you. We're here to support the educators in Tennessee. We're here to support the students."

Tennessee also plans to take a slower approach the second time around. They'll roll out online tests gradually over three years — starting with the schools where they worked best last time. High schools that have successfully used online tests will be able to decide for themselves whether to take them during this school year, while all Tennessee students in earlier grades will take pencil-and-paper exams.

But Education Commissioner Candice McQueen says the state's committed to phasing out paper. She says Tennessee just won't be preparing students for the future unless they move tests online.   - WPLN  

Knox Dems

Sources: Rick Staples front-runner to replace Rep. Joe Armstrong

Rick Staples is the favorite to receive the Democratic pick to replace state Rep. Joe Armstrong on November's ballot, according to several senior local Democratic Party officials.

Party leaders will meet 6 p.m. Thursday at the Knox County Democratic Party headquarters, 311 Morgan St., for a public vote to replace Armstrong.

Armstrong's recent felony conviction on filing a false tax return disqualifies him from running for re-election against Independent candidate Pete Drew in November. Democrats must select his replacement on the ballot.

Staples has unsuccessfully run for office several times recently, including a Democratic 2016 primary race for the 2nd District seat on Knox County Commission. Others vying for the 15th House District seat include LeTonia Armstrong, Joe Armstrong 's wife and a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies, and Knoxville City Councilman and former Mayor Daniel Brown.  - Knoxville News Sentinel  (subscription)

Putin in your pocket 

NSA hacking tools were leaked online. Here’s what you need to know

A cache of powerful hacking tools used by the National Security Agency has leaked online in what could be the biggest blow to the agency since 2013, when Edward Snowden came forward with documents that exposed the scope of its surveillance capabilities.

The leak raises new questions about how the NSA uses its offensive hacking ability and whether its approach ultimately leaves everyday users, not just the agency’s targets, at risk. Here’s what you need to know about the leak:

What happened?

Over the weekend, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers posted online what it says is a trove of malware used by the Equation Group, a code name for hackers that cybersecurity researchers have linked to the NSA.

What do these tools actually do?


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Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball

Clinton Rises to 348 Electoral Votes, Trump Drops to 190

Clinton now above 270 Safe or Likely Democratic electoral votes for the first time


 The Donald's Daily Lie

Trump's claim that Clinton lacks the "physical stamina" to be President

“To defeat crime and radical Islamic terrorism in our country, to win trade in our country, you need tremendous physical and mental strength and stamina. Hillary Clinton doesn’t have that strength and stamina.”
— Donald Trump, speech in West Bend, Wis., Aug. 16, 2016
“Importantly, she also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS.”
— Trump, speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Aug. 15, 2016


Two days in a row, in prepared speeches, Trump asserted that that his rival Clinton lacks “mental and physical stamina” to do the job as president.

 That’s surely no accident, but a campaign official did not respond to a query about why the GOP presidential nominee was making this claim. We assume Trump’s rhetoric is related to a not-so-quiet campaign among right-leaning news entities to highlight “concerns” about Clinton’s health, often shared on social media with #HillarysHealth.

The Facts

Clinton, who would be 69 on inauguration day, in July 2015 released a letter from Dr. Lisa Bardack, an internist in Mount Kisco, N.Y., who has served as her doctor for 15 years. The eight-paragraph letter described Clinton “as a healthy 67-year-old female whose current medical conditions include hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies.”

The letter disclosed that Clinton suffered from deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and in 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009 and most notably, a concussion in 2012. (The elbow injury and concussion, when she was secretary of state, were extensively reported at the time.) The letter says her concussion symptoms, including double vision, were resolved within two months. The letter concluded that Clinton “is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as president of the United States.”

Trump, who would be 70 on inauguration day, in December 2015 released a four-paragraph letter from Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, a gastroenterologist in New York. Bornstein said he had treated Trump for 36 years. The letter, written with Trumpian rhetoric, proclaimed that “if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” It provided few specifics — Trump apparently takes a statin drug and baby aspirin each day — and some medical professionals have noted it was oddly worded for an official document released by a medical doctor.

The Pinocchio Test

Given Trump’s poor track record with the facts, it should be little surprise that, through innuendo, he is trying to surface debunked Internet rumors from the fringes of the right. But these are also half-baked, ridiculous and easily disproved, making it especially shocking that he would try to highlight them in prepared speeches.

Both major-party candidates have issued letters from their doctors attesting to their health. Both could clearly do more, especially given the standard set by McCain eight years ago. But in the absence of additional information, there’s little reason for a major-party nominee such as Trump to traffic in rumors and innuendo.

Trump has claimed twice, without proof, that Clinton lacks the physical and mental stamina to be president. In the absence of any evidence, he earns Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios


Thought for the day: 

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."  - Winston Churchill



Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 17, 2016

More privatizing controversy

Democratic lawmaker blasts Gov. Haslam for push to privatize

"Gov. Haslam and his administration is willing to sell anything that isn't nailed down in state government," Clemmons charged. "I question his priorities, his motives."

"This issue is about jobs and families," Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, told reporters this week. "Now, Gov. Haslam's conspired to unemploy thousands of state workers behind closed doors. He's done so in a secretive manner. If it were not for local media in uncovering these, we might still be in the dark."

Clemmons' comments came during a Monday conference call organized by United Campus Workers, which is opposed to the Haslam administration's ongoing effort to develop a comprehensive building services outsourcing contract.

It could affect facilities management across 90 percent of Tennessee's government, including the University of Tennessee, which includes UT-Chattanooga, and the Tennessee Board of Regents, which includes Chattanooga, as well as Cleveland State Community Colleges. State-operated hospitals like Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute and state prisons could also be impacted, as could state prison building facilities management.

Clemmons, joined by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, called for increased oversight by the Republican-dominated General Assembly.

The administration estimates the state could save $36 million annually through outsourcing, but higher education leaders have disputed that. State officials have contracted with an independent auditing firm to provide a review of the administration's savings claims.

Administration officials embarked on the current no-layoff conditions as a result of continuing blowback over outsourcing building management and maintenance of nearly 10 percent of the state's building maintenance and real estate management services to Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle in 2013.

The state contends it's saved $13 million so far on the contract. But JLL's contract proved highly controversial, with many state workers, including a number of people in Chattanooga, not getting hired by the publicly traded company.

Clemmons noted a recent new report by Nashville's WTVF, which raised questions about the administration's claimed savings on yet another Haslam outsourcing initiative involving the state's motor pool.

Clemmons called it "strange" that Haslam is using his own high job-approval rankings as "political capital to push through this outsourcing scheme to make his friends money rather than using some of that same political capital to pass something like Insure Tennessee that an overwhelming majority of Tennesseans support." He cited a Vanderbilt University poll from earlier this year showing most Tennesseans oppose privatization.  - Chattanooga Times Free Press  (subscription)

Bad Boy

Durham campaign investigation hints at 'serious violations'

A $191,000 discrepancy exists between bank records and financial disclosures for Rep. Jeremy Durham's main campaign finance account, according to a memo from the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance that's part of an ongoing state investigation.

Bank records show Durham’s campaign account on March 31 had a balance of $6,857, according to the memo obtained by The Tennessean. But Durham’s first quarter financial disclosure, filed on June 6, states the campaign had $198,254.

“At this time a determination cannot be made as to the accuracy of Rep. Durham’s campaign balance due to investments, failure to report contributions and other transactions,” states the memo, dated Aug. 10.

Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, wouldn’t say whether the state found any illegal acts by Durham, R-Franklin. But Tom Lawless, chairman of the board, said the memo raises questions.

“There are indications there may be some serious violations, and we want to garner the facts so we can take the appropriate remedies,” Lawless said in a telephone interview Tuesday.   - The Tennessean (subscription)

Doobie doobie do  

Nashville marijuana decriminalization bill survives first vote

A proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville survived an unexpected roll-call first vote in the Metro Council Tuesday night.

The council voted 32-4, with one abstention, to advance a bill on the first of three readings that would lessen the penalty for people who knowingly possess or exchange a half-ounce of marijuana or less to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service.

The proposal, which marks the first time that Nashville’s legislative body has considered any type of marijuana decriminalization, arrived at the council Tuesday for what is typically a procedural first vote.   - The Tenneseean (subscription) 

Big step for Metro Nashville 

Nashville Chooses Ambitious Transit Plan — At Hefty Price

Nashville unveils an ambitious plan for mass transit improvements today, with officials saying the “bold, long-term investment” follows the overwhelming demand of the public.

In development for more than a year, the nMotion plan combines a range of strategies to fight traffic gridlock and fundamentally change how Middle Tennessee travels:

  • buses that run much longer hours;
  • extension of the Music City Star rail line to daily service, including weekends;
  • an overhaul to how buses move downtown, plus construction of a second transit station;
  • significantly faster service to Nashville International Airport;
  • light rail service, eventually, along four corridors.

To carry out this “comprehensive regional system” would require significant spending: Nearly $6 billion in capital costs over 25 years, along with a 300 percent increase in annual operating costs, from the current $83.2 million to $338.4 million if fully realized.

On a per capita level, that would be an increase from $67 to $244 — although officials say a huge share would come from non-local sources, to the point of actually reducing Metro’s per capita spending.

“The overwhelming response was that Nashville and the Middle Tennessee region should pursue a bold, long-term investment in mass transit,” the report reads.   - WPLN  


FBI defends decision not to charge Clinton 

The FBI on Tuesday forcefully defended its decision not to criminally charge Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a private email server as secretary of state in a letter to lawmakers that laid out its rationale for refusing to do so.

The letter was sent to House Oversight Committee lawmakers the same day that the bureau released to the GOP-controlled Congress a variety of material from its investigation.

It marked yet another occasion in which FBI leadership responded to – and in some cases, rebutted – GOP claims about why the Democratic presidential nominee should have been charged. 

FBI Director James B. Comey announced in early July that he was recommending Clinton not be charged, and the letter, which was released Tuesday by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), largely repeated statements he had made previously in public. But it also notably seemed to take aim at some ongoing conservative criticisms of Clinton – particularly that she was negligent in her handling of classified information and thus deserving of criminal charges.  - The Washington Post (subscription)

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 Re-arranging the deck chairs

Trump Shakes up campaign, demotes top advisor

Donald Trump, following weeks of gnawing agitation over his advisers’ attempts to temper his style, moved late Tuesday to overhaul his struggling campaign by rebuffing those efforts and elevating two longtime associates who have encouraged his combative populism.

Stephen Bannon, a former banker who runs the influential conservative outlet Breitbart News and is known for his fiercely anti-establishment politics, has been named the Trump campaign’s chief executive. Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican pollster who has been close to Trump for years, will assume the role of campaign manager.

Trump has listened intently to Bannon and agreed with him, believing that voters will ultimately want a presidential candidate who represents disruption more than a candidate with polished appeal, the aides said. “Buckle up,” wrote a Trump strategist in a text message Wednesday to The Washington Post.

. . . Rick Wilson, a GOP consultant working for independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, said angst was evident Wednesday morning in a round of phone calls to his friends on Capitol Hill. He predicted that the RNC would be pressured to eventually distance itself from Bannon and then possibly from Trump, in order to protect down-ballot GOP candidates across the country.

“If you were looking for a tone or pivot, Bannon will pivot you in a dark, racist and divisive direction. It’ll be a nationalist, hateful campaign,” Wilson said. "Republicans should run away."  -Robert Costa in The Washington Post (subscription)

--@costareports: "Bannon has convinced Trump that rest of campaign needs to be bare-knuckles brawl, w/ full-bore populism/movement politics" ... "Huge rallies. Gloves off. Brutal fights with Clinton. Heavy emphasis on nationalism and populism. That's the Bannon strategy."

It just keeps getting worse

AP Sources: Manafort tied to undisclosed foreign lobbying

Donald Trump's campaign chairman helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy.

The revelation, provided to The Associated Press by people directly knowledgeable about the effort, comes at a time when Trump has faced criticism for his friendly overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also casts new light on the business practices of campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Under federal law, U.S. lobbyists must declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders or their political parties and provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Trump shook up his campaign organization Wednesday, putting two new longtime Republican conservative strategists as chief executive officer and campaign manager. It was unclear what impact the shakeup would have on Manafort, but he retains his title as campaign chairman.   - Associated Press  

Trump cottons to TN farmer 

Trump names Tipton County farmer to agriculture panel

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has named a West Tennessee cotton farmer to a committee that will advise him on agriculture issues.

Charlotte Kelley of Tipton County is one of more than five dozen people who will serve on the panel.

Kelley, a former Tipton County commissioner, and her husband, Richard, farm 14,000 acres of cotton and operate a cotton gin in Burlison that processes more than 30,000 bales.

Trump's campaign said Tuesday the committee will be responsible for providing ideas to strengthen the nation's agriculture industry and provide support to rural communities.   - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription)

Two words: Donald Trump

The Daily Trail: Why Republicans should probably start worrying about their House majority

But with Donald Trump collapsing in key polls -- in a new Monmouth University poll, he's down by 9 points in Florida, a state he very much needs to win -- we're mapping out scenarios about how Democrats could retake the House of Representatives, and we're kinda surprised to be finding them plausible. Which all suggests just how bad this election could be for Republicans.

Republicans, we remind you, have the largest majority since before World War II, thanks in part to gerrymandered districts in their favor, self-sorting voters and the fact the president is a Democrat.

In 2016, Democrats need to net an extraordinary 30 seats to take back the majority. That means everything needs to go right for them in their six competitive seats AND they need to run the gamut in 27 Republican-held seats that nonpartisan analysts at Cook Political Report rank as competitive.

Here's why they could do it: Donald Trump is losing

And if he loses to Hillary Clinton by a big enough margin in November, it will be very hard for those 27 House Republicans to outrun him in their own races by a big enough margin.   - The Washington Post (subscription)

Thought for the day:

"To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness. "  - Edgar Allen Poe


Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 16, 2016

Tennessee insurance costs rise 

Here's How Much Cigna, Humana Want To Raise Rates In Tennessee On the Federal Marketplace

Health insurance companies Cigna and Humana have submitted new proposals to the state about how much more they want to charge on the federal marketplace next year. They had submitted these requests in June but told the state recently that they needed to recalculate in order to avoid losing too much money.

Cigna is now requesting to raise its rates by 46.3 percent — double what it had originally proposed. Humana wants a rate hike of 44.3 percent, compared to its June request of 29 percent.  

The third health care provider that wants to offer insurance on the exchange, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, did not submit a new proposal to the state. It had already requested a much higher increase, around 63 percent.

The companies will have to send senior staff to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance to defend their calculations later this month.   - WPLN 

Police video

Poll: Vast majority of Tennesseans support access to body cam footage

The vast majority of Tennesseans support public access to police body camera footage that shows serious injury or death, according to a recently released poll.

The poll, conducted by icitizen – a Nashville-based polling agency – and the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, found that nine out of 10 people in the Volunteer State support the release of body camera videos that provide the public with footage of incidents that result in an injury or fatality.

Despite such support for access to body cam footage, Tennesseans range in their views on whether or not the right to view such evidence should be limited.

About 60 percent of people believe the public should be able to view officer-involved footage unless a judge decides its release would harm an ongoing investigation, while 28 percent of respondents believe citizens always have the right to see such footage. Only 12 percent of people believe police should be able to withhold the video for any reason.  - Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)

Staying Put  

Gerald McCormick to run for House majority leader again

Yes, there's still a general election to get out of the way in November, but state House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick wants to be clear that he'd like to keep his leadership post next legislative session.

The Chattanooga Republican formally announced his bid to remain majority leader — a post that serves as the main representative of the GOP during floor sessions — in an email Monday to colleagues.

"This is much earlier than past election cycles but it is important to clear the air so we can get on with the task at hand: defeating Democrats in November," McCormick said in the email.

McCormick ran unopposed in the GOP primary and doesn't have a Democratic opponent in the general election. His announcement comes on the heels of Rep. Jimmy Matlock surprising some in the House last week when he said he'll challenge House Speaker Beth Harwell for her leadership post later this year. Harwell confirmed last week she will vie for the speakership again, but a spokeswoman said she's focused on her campaign for re-election at the moment.  - The Tennessean (subscription)

Privatization of Profit - taxpayers expense

Tennessee Democrats And A Union Say They Want Proof Outsourcing Works Before There's More Of It

Tennessee Democrats and a union that represents campus workers are calling on Gov. Bill Haslam to release a study into outsourcing. They say the Haslam administration needs to show privatizing government services has worked before going ahead with more plans. The Haslam administration agreed in March to do the review. It came after lawmakers demanded more evidence that outsourcing works.

"There's absolutely no proof that government will operate more efficiently, yet there's a track record of failed attempts," state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said on a conference call with reporters Monday.

The Democrats' list of failures include outsourcing maintenance of state vehicles, a deal with a Chicago real estate firm to manage state office buildings and the botched rollout of online standardized tests. They want a public hearing before more contracts are put out to bid.

The Haslam administration insists outsourcing is saving taxpayers millions.

A spokeswoman says Nashville-based KraftCPA is doing the review currently and is expected to deliver it in November. If it shows the savings they expect, it could clear the way for more outsourcing — including state park facilities, university campuses and other government properties that weren't covered in previous rounds.

Expensive heritage 

Vanderbilt Settles With Daughters Of The Confederacy, Pays $1.2M To Rename Memorial Hall

Vanderbilt University has settled a long-running lawsuit so it can rename Confederate Memorial Hall. The school will pay $1.2 million to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which is considered present day value of the original $50,000 donation more than 80 years ago.

Vanderbilt tried to rename Memorial Hall in 2002, but the Daughters of the Confederacy sued, arguing breach of contract. The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that Vanderbilt could only drop the name if it paid back the money. The school opted to save the $900,000 "rather than enrich an organization whose values it does not share," states a press release from 2015.

But Chancellor Nick Zeppos says the time has come to move on.

Zeppos says Vanderbilt is not trying to whitewash its past or avoid difficult questions. He sees the renaming as being true to the original vision of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who wanted to contribute to healing following the Civil War.

An anonymous donor has put up the money and specifically designated it for the renaming. In campus publications, the dormitory has simply been referred to as "Memorial Hall" for more than a decade.

A number of southern universities have been working to remove Confederate references on their campuses. Middle Tennessee State University is currently in the process of renaming Forrest Hall, which was meant to honor Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  - WPLN 


Activists put Strickland in the eye of the storm, but he can't solve this alone

Black Lives Matter supporters have put Mayor Jim Strickland in the eye of the storm. Bringing opportunity to Memphis’ most humble neighborhoods, however, will depend less on the mayor than an outfit some activists consider the home of white privilege — the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Once on the edge of community life, and recently recast as a civic leader, the business group at 22 North Front Street has been discussing for two years the same issues community activists fretted over this summer.

“We want to make sure we don’t put a Band-Aid on a long-term problem. We have to put a real solution in place,” said Memphis entrepreneur Carolyn Hardy, the chamber’s chairwoman.

Here’s the catch: Even in a city short on money, political leaders can improve police conduct, fix blight, marshal resources, open community centers. But the other point made — the disenfranchised want good jobs, opportunity — no mayor in America can solve this alone.

Mayors can insist, warn, negotiate, though if Memphis brings jobs to the worn districts, the leadership will come from 22 N. Front. There, the chamber three years ago amassed within itself a smaller group of 120 senior executives who call themselves the Chairman’s Circle. Hardy is a co-chair of the circle.

Strickland’s budget amounts to dimes and quarters compared to the spending these 120 executives oversee for payroll, services and supplies at their companies, foundations, hospitals and universities. Their combined spending totals billions of dollars each year.  Hardy said the goal is to bring minority firms into the commercial mainstream, just as cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago have done.

In May, Hardy and Trenary quietly gathered the execs in a room. She asked them to consider diverting part of their spending to African American- and women-owned firms.

Hardy doubts every exec will pitch in, though she figures many will, perhaps most.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription)

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Tim Kaine Live!

VIDEOS DU JOUR -- Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm ): "That night @TimKaine visited a brewery in Asheville, joined the band, and serenaded crowd & press w/ 'Wagon Wheel'" 2-min. video  

Fact-checking foreign policy 

Fact-Checking Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Speech

On Troop Withdrawal

Claim: President Barack Obama set the terms of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Status: False. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq was established by President George W. Bush.

On Nation Building

Claim: The United States is in the era of nation building, which Trump will end.

Status: Mostly false. Obama has largely phased out the kind of large-scale nation-building efforts most closely associated with Bush’s tenure, when hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were deployed to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Honor Killings

Claim: Many cases of honor killings have occurred in the United States.

Status: True. The Department of Justice last year commissioned a comprehensive study that estimated 23 to 27 honor killings occur every year in the U.S.

On the Iraq War

Claim: Trump opposed the Iraq War “from the beginning.”

Status: Questionable. The quote from the interview that Trump cited in his speech is not as clear as he described it and does not express opposition or support of a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Trump said, “Three months before the invasion, I said in an interview with Neil Cavuto — to whom I offer my best wishes for a speedy recovery — that perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it yet. And that the economy is a much bigger problem.”

In a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Trump seemed to indicate he supported an invasion of Iraq. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump responded when asked by Stern if he supported an invasion. “I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

On Vetting Immigrants

Claim: Trump could use federal legal authority to implement his “extreme vetting” proposal.

Status: Unclear. While federal immigration law lets the president bar entry of aliens who would be detrimental to U.S. interests, legal scholars say such authority has never been used the way Trump has proposed.

Ideological screening isn’t new, according to Akhil Amar of Yale Law School. “We’ve always asked all sorts of questions about people’s beliefs, and people with un-American points of view will be screened out,” Amar said.

But legal issues could arise if the United States discriminates on the basis of race or religion, and Trump could face a separation of power challenge if his executive order is too broad, Amar said. Also, Trump’s “extreme vetting” may be unconstitutional if applied to U.S. citizens or permanent residents or others with legal rights to enter the country.

David Martin, a former Homeland Security official now at the University of Virginia Law School, said that while Trump’s proposal is probably legal, it is “inconsistent with our constitutional values.”

“We are not at a point where we should be engaging in this kind of sweeping inquisition of people who want to come to the U.S.,” Martin said.   - ABC News  

And here's a sampling from the Washington Post's Fact-Checker.  

You can read it for yourself, but here are the highlights:

"nonsensical," "real whoppers," "false and facile," "discredited," "four Pinocchio claim," "once again Trump criticizes Obama and Clinton for taking action he advocated,"  "unverified assumption," "no evidence"

Political plagiarism

Donald Trump Cribs His War Plan From the ‘Founder’ of ISIS: Barack Obama

Most of what he wants to do to the Islamic State is already being done by President Obama and would be continued by Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump says he has a master plan to defeat ISIS. But on Monday it was clear he has yet to update it to reflect the changing dynamics on the battlefield, which went either unnoticed or ignored by the Republican nominee in what was billed as a speech on how to defeat the terrorist group.

Trump spent a substantial amount of time in his speech hammering the Obama administration for not doing enough to defeat ISIS.

But in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, the multinational effort to defeat ISIS appears now to be on the upswing. And in the sparse moments when Trump actually proposed ideas to defeat ISIS, it sounded suspiciously like the ideas already being put into practice by his arch-nemesis Obama. 

It was a speech that has become emblematic of Trump’s outreach to voters: deeply pessimistic, loose with the truth, and entirely unspecific. In fact, Trump did not offer many specifics about how to defeat ISIS but where he did, he largely repeated what already is happening.    - The Daily Beast    

How Hillary can fix the foundation issue

Hillary Clinton Needs to Step Up and Get Ahead of Her Family Foundation ‘Scandal’

She—and Bill—need to say preemptively, ‘Here are the rules under which the foundation will operate’ if she’s elected.

I kept reading those Clinton Foundation email stories last week trying to figure out why I was even reading them. Take the name “Clinton” out of the equation and consider the known facts:

An official of a nonprofit foundation emailed a staffer he knew in the State Department. He had a donor who said he had useful information and wanted a meeting. The State Department employee wrote back and said sure, I’ll set him up. And then, by all accounts, did… nothing. No meeting ever happened. The department aide (Huma Abedin, in this case) told the foundation official (Doug Band) that she’d set up a meeting between the part-Lebanese donor and Jeffrey Feltman, the former ambassador to Lebanon. But Feltman told The Washington Postlast week that not only did he never meet the man, but “no one ever told me he was seeking me out.”

If you don’t think this kind of email exchange happens dozens of times a day in Washington, you are either, perhaps paradoxically, deeply conspiratorial or deeply naïve. Rich people ask connected friends to introduce them to people in government. Sometimes those introductions are made; sometimes they aren’t. Even if the introductionis made, it’s hardly an a priori scandal.

But of course you can’t take the name “Clinton” out of the equation, and so any reading matter that puts the words “Clinton Foundation” and “emails” in proximity to each other, and for that matter the names of Band and Abedin, is bound to generate the expected Pavlovian response. This is not going to change. And so I say again, as I have more than once over the past year, that the Clintons really should take forceful steps to address the legitimate and fair questions out there about the foundation.   - Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast   

The Donald's Daily Lie 

Once Again, Trump Claims He Was Always Against the Iraq War. He's Lying.

Donald Trump made his big foreign policy speech today, and he devoted plenty of time to his early opposition to the war in Iraq. At one point, he cited an interview in Esquire from August 2004—more than a year after the American invasion began—in which he had railed against how the war was being handled. 

That’s all well and good, but Trump's big point throughout the speech and this entire campaign has been that he was always opposed to the war—even before it began. He has said this over and over again and used it to bash both his Republican primary opponents and Hillary Clinton for their "poor judgment." This claim has been debunked (over and over again), by multiple fact-checkers,magazines, and newspapers.

In his speech today, Trump repeated another claim about the lead-up: that he came out against invading Iraq on Neil Cavuto's show before the war began. As fact-checkers and BuzzFeed found after he made this claim earlier in the campaign, this is also false.  - Esquire Maganzine   

Fascinating read

A massive new study debunks a widespread theory for Donald Trump’s success

Economic distress and anxiety across working-class white America have become a widely discussed explanation for the success of Donald Trump. It seems to make sense. Trump's most fervent supporters tend to be white men without college degrees. This same group has suffered economically in our increasingly globalized world, as machines have replaced workers in factories and labor has shifted overseas. Trump has promised to curtail trade and other perceived threats to American workers, including immigrants.

Yet a major new analysis from Gallup, based on 87,000 interviews the polling company conducted over the past year, suggests this narrative is not complete. While there does seem to be a relationship between economic anxiety and Trump's appeal, the straightforward connection that many observers have assumed does not appear in the data.

According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.

Yet while Trump's supporters might be comparatively well off themselves, they come from places where their neighbors endure other forms of hardship. In their communities, white residents are dying younger, and it is harder for young people who grow up poor to get ahead.  - Wonkblog - The Washington Post (subscription)

Thought for the day: 

George Schultz, the Republican who served in four cabinet posts under two presidents had this to say yesterday at the Hoover Institute of a Trump presidency: 

"God help us."

Because it's the Olympics

How cool is Usain Bolt?

It's just a trial heat, but you gotta love this guy.  



Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 15, 2016

RED ALERT!  Trump, Manfort, Putin trioka

Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump's Campaign Chief 

On a leafy side street off Independence Square in Kiev is an office used for years by Donald J. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, when he consulted for Ukraine's ruling political party. His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May. 

And Mr. Manafort's presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort's main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych. Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych's pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012 ... Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin. 

Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.  The New York Times (subscription)

The risk of taking on Trump 

Anti-Trump organizer forced to go to Feds

The man who organized a letter last week of more than 70 Republicans calling on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to stop funding Trump and focus on down ballot races has gone to the FBI after facing harassment on hate websites. 

One site - INCOG MAN - tells readers that "It's time to put the SMACK DOWN on these filthy Jew rats!" and refers to Andrew Weinstein, the organizer, as "a faggy looking Jew,' and an "unhinged Jewish rat," among other things. Weinstein told Politico's Playbook that "apparently they didn't realize that I'm pro-gay, pro-Jew, and pro-rat, so their insults were not particularly effective."

"That said, this was my first horrifying glimpse behind the curtain at some of the extremist hate groups supporting the Trump campaign, and it's a very dark and scary place."  - Politico Playbook  

Haslam takes on Trump - not ready to support GOP nominee

Haslam: 'Words Matter' When Criticizing Political Opponents

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is also criticizing Donald Trump for calling President Obama the founder of ISIS.

The Republican governor says "words matter" when leaders talk about their political opponents. Implying the other side is behind a terrorist organization goes too far, Haslam said.

"It's one thing to go in and say let's look at policy and see what policy drove ISIS to be where it is now, and how has it grown the way it has," he told reporters Friday. "It's another thing, I think maybe to say something like well, the president was the person who started ISIS. That's a pretty grand reach."

Haslam says he won't vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election. But he's still making up his mind about Trump.  - WPLN

Shoot the messenger

Trump Blames 'Crooked Media' After Week of Unfavorable Polls

After a week of bad poll numbers, Donald Trump is blaming the media. "If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn't put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%," Trump said on Twitter this morning. 

He added to the comments throughout the day on social media. "It is not "freedom of the press" when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!" he tweeted Sunday afternoon.

His blasts against the media on Twitter on Sunday followed what he told a crowd at a Connecticut rally Saturday night: "I'm not running against crooked Hillary Clinton. I'm running against the crooked media." 

Trump's barrage comes after a spate of unfavorable polls over the past week. Compounding the downward trajectory of Trump's polling data is apparent pressure from a portion of the conservative electorate that has failed to coalesce around his candidacy. 

To emphasize the statement he made Saturday at the rally in Fairfield, Connecticut, about the "crooked media", the 70-year-old real estate tycoon waved his finger in a horizontal line toward where the press was stationed.


The media has served as a rhetorical target for Trump throughout his campaign. In an essay for Marie Claire last week, MSNBC/NBC reporter Katy Tur wrote that she had to be accompanied out of a South Carolina rally by Secret Service agents after Donald Trump launched a personal attack against her.

In May, he called ABC News' Tom Llamas a "sleaze."   - ABC News  

General election season comes to Tennessee  

6 Tennessee legislative races to watch in November

With Tennessee’s August primary election in the rearview mirror, politicians and political insiders are turning their focus to the November general election.
While the presidential election will most likely dominate the headlines in the days leading up to Nov. 8, several races throughout the state could play a role determining whether Republicans can bolster their supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Here are six legislative races to watch:

Steve Dickerson, R- Nashville 20th District - After handily defeating Ron McDow in the August primary election, Dickerson is set to face Democrat Erin Coleman in November. Insiders point to Coleman’s primary election — which showed that she received 75 more votes in the Democratic primary than McDow and Dickerson combined — as a sign they could grab the only Republican-held Senate seat in heavily Democratic Nashville.

Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, 10th District  - During the 2016 legislative session, the Senate Education Committee member, whose district covers Bradley and part of Hamilton counties, was among the more vocal lawmakers leading the charge to push back against the University of Tennessee’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Although Gardenhire had no opposition in the Republican primary, the three Democrats vying to challenge him in November keyed in on several of his more outlandish statements, including one in which Gardenhire said he deleted angry emails from advocates opposed to one of his bills. The three Democrats in the primary brought in 6,108 votes, 51 more than Gardenhire netted during the primary.

Kevin Dunlap, D-Rock Island, 43rd District - In the 2014 general election, the 38-year-old teacher defeated his Republican challenger by just 54 votes in a race to represent White and Grundy counties and part of Warren county and also featured an Independent candidate.

John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, 41st District  - Republicans have dominated in the rural areas of the state and could turn to Windle’s seat — which represents Morgan, Jackson, Overton and part of Fentress counties — to try to bolster the GOP’s grip. First elected to the House in 1994, Windle has not faced a serious challenger in recent years. In 2014, he was unopposed. This year, he will face Republican Ed Butler, who received 23 fewer votes than Windle in the August primary, although the candidates did not square off in a head-to-head matchup.

Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, 82nd District  - Another rural seat Republicans would love to steal from Democrats is the one representing Lauderdale, Crockett and Haywood counties that’s been long held by Fitzhugh, who, like Windle, was first elected to the chamber in 1994. Two Republicans — Andy Cole and Larry Dotson — netted about 2,700 votes in this year’s Republican primary, 900-plus votes more than the House Minority Leader from West Tennessee received. Despite not facing a Republican challenger in the 2014 general election, Fitzhugh received 7,800 votes at that time, which means Cole will need to do some serious work to oust Fitzhugh.

Open, 69th District  - When David Shepard, D-Dickson, announced his plans to retire in March, Democrats praised his work as a lawmaker. But with his departure, the minority party faces a serious battle in the race to replace him.  Tennessean (subscription)

Republican infighting continues  

Lawmaker not allowed to address concerns with Tennessee GOP

Rep. Judd Matheny tried to keep fighting against members of his own party Saturday, when he hoped to raise questions during a State Executive Committee meeting about the way Republican leaders have handled a situation involving a political consulting firm previously used by candidates challenging incumbent lawmakers.

In recent months, Matheny has taken issue with the fact that Southland Advantage – a company founded by Taylor Ferrell, who is the wife of the party’s political director, Walker Ferrell – was once hired by candidates running against Matheny, Rep.Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais. All three lawmakers beat their challengers in the state's Aug. 4 primary election.

Several party members, including Wilson County Republicans, have called for the firing of Walker Ferrell, as well as party chairman Ryan Haynes and Brent Leatherwood, the state party’s executive director, arguing that they have condoned activity that undermines the work of incumbent Republicans.

After 27 GOP lawmakers sent a letter to Haynes in April, Taylor Ferrell said she ended two contracts because the issue was a distraction.  - The Tennessean (subscription)

Heath care inequality 

Health care gap widens between rich and poor

An explosion of new drugs, medical apps and an ever-expanding array of ways to get treatment are reinventing how people consume health care. Yet those who would most benefit from the latest technology simply can’t afford it.

And, across Tennessee and the country, the gap between these two groups has only widened in recent years, experts said. Income correlates to health care spending and is associated with longevity, according to two recent studies that looked at long-term expenditures across income brackets and tax and death records.

The amount spent by people in the highest income brackets — people who are generally among the healthiest — increased from 2004 to 2012, a period when care costs were beginning to be shifted to consumers in restructured health plans.

But, spending in lower income brackets over the same period began to decrease — leading to a gap in money spent on health care, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs that looked at data from 1963 to 2012.

Then the gap began to widen, signaling to the authors that a "redistribution of care toward wealthier Americans" is happening.

Average yearly household health care spending by income

"What we can say for sure, it’s not because rich people are sicker — that is the opposite of what’s true," said Dickman. While the study doesn't include data under the Affordable Care Act, more and more insurance plans are shifting higher costs to patients through higher deductibles and other cost-sharing mechanisms. But for people who haven’t seen real wage growth, higher bills are competing with food, fuel, utility and internet bills and rent.

“As health care costs and prices have risen year after year, people (in the top income bracket that saw growth) have been able to keep up with that, but a lot of Americans haven’t,” said Dickman.   - Tennessean (subscription)

Climate change in Tennessee

Tennessee Sees Strange Summer Of Flooding And Drought

This summer, Tennessee has seen flooding in the northern part of the state and extreme drought in the South. Within the same week the U.S. Small Business Administration announced it was offering disaster loans for victims of both dry and wet conditions.

Clarksville broke all-time rainfall records for the month of July. Meanwhile, a little over 100 miles to the south, Pikeville received less than half an inch during the same time period, says meteorologist Bobby Boyd of the National Weather Service. “So, quite a contrast," he says. "I don’t recall that ever happening in the past, and I’ve been around about 50 years or so.”

There are multiple factors contributing to the strange contrast in conditions. Boyd says lack of moisture in the soil, storm fronts stalling out and a historically low lack of hurricanes have all played their part. An extension agent in Gallatin says the summer floods brought a bumper crop of corn, but they also kept some farmers from being able to actually access their fields. In the counties around Chattanooga, farmers have abandoned most of their corn crops, and seen much of their pastureland dry up.

Boyd says drought’s have an "insidious and subtle" way of feeding on themselves, which could mean the conditions in the southern part of Middle Tennessee might come creeping north.   - WPLN

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Haslam ‘not holding my breath’ on sales tax action

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s backing a state Department of Revenue rule to requiring out-of-state retailers to collect Tennessee sales taxes because he has little confidence Congress will act, reports the Times-Free Press.

“They [Congress] keep saying that they’re going to take it up, but I am not holding my breath they’ll take it up any time soon,” Haslam said in an interview Friday.

“For me, it’s just this: The economy is shifting so much that way [to the internet],” Haslam said. “It’s literally not a fair playing field for our in-state retailers. And those are folks who are not only having to collect the tax, but they’re paying property tax. They’re sponsoring the local Little League team, and these are folks who are contributing in a full way to our economy.”

He said the present situation gives internet retailers up to a 9.75 percent advantage over their brick-and-mortar competitors in Tennessee, which must collect the state’s 7 percent sales tax and local government taxes of up to 2.75 percent. Haslam’s Revenue Department recently held a rule-making hearing on the proposal. It would require internet, catalog and other out-of-state companies with no physical presence in Tennessee but with annual in-state sales of at least $500,000 to collect state and local sales taxes starting in 2017.   - Knoxblogs (subscription)


Thought for the day: 

"Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission." -
 Andrew Jackson 



Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 12, 2016

Editor's Note:  We hate to keep reporting ad nauseam on Donald Trump  
          -  but he keeps putting his foot in it - every single day. 

Donald Trump’s ISIS-Obama Comments First Came From the Russians and Crazy People

On Wednesday, the Republican nominee took a break from suggesting Clinton should be assassinated and calling her “the devil” to focus his attention on the current president, who he believes is the mastermind of a terrorist cell. This particular line of thinking is incidentally also favored by American conspiracy theorists as well as the Russian government and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On stage at a rally in Sunrise, Florida, Trump said, “In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama—ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS, he’s the founder of ISIS, he’s the founder! He founded ISIS, and I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton. Co-founder, crooked Hillary Clinton!”

Given the opportunity to clarify his remarks on Thursday, in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump instead confirmed that he believes Obama is, literally, the founder of the terrorist organization.

“I know what you meant,” Hewitt said, sympathetically, “you meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”

“No,” Trump replied, “I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Informed by Hewitt that Obama has been bombing ISIS, or bombing the shit out of them in Trump-speak, he said, “I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that, that was the founding of ISIS, OK?”

A spokesperson for Trump did not respond when asked where Trump got the idea that Obama is the founder of ISIS, but it’s worth noting that—aside from the homegrown fantasists Trump counts among his friends—the idea is also popular among the Russian government Trump has tried to distance himself from.

Russia Today, a propaganda news outlet funded by the Russian government, has published multiple stories attributing ISIS’s rise to U.S. calculations.

Michael McFaul, a professor at Stanford University and fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs, tweeted on Wednesday that, “Trump’s line that Obama founded ISIS echoes exactly a myth propagated by Russian state-controlled media and bloggers.”

McFaul told The Daily Beast, “For years, I have seen posts nearly every day from Russian bloggers suggesting that President Obama founded and continues to fund ISIS. It seems to be one of their standard talking points… Last night, after I posted and refuted what Trump said in Russian, dozens of Russians jumped in to say that Trump was right, and I was wrong.”

Sure enough, Maria Katasonova, a Russian nationalist and candidate for the State Duma election, responded to McFaul, in Russian, “ISIS is the outcome of not only Obama policy, but of #CrookedHillary.”   - The Daily Beast   

It's about time

Corker says Trump went 'far too far' in Obama, ISIS statements

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump went “far too far” in statements claiming President Barack Obama founded ISIS, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said during a visit to Williamson County on Thursday.

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was unfamiliar with the comments, but responded to questions about Trump's latest remarks, made at a rally in Florida and repeated during a radio interview Thursday.

“This has been a very unusual election,” Corker said. “And regardless of whether the candidate on my side of the aisle says things that I disagree with or not, if you ask me, I’m going to share my disagreement on certain things and my agreement on certain things. But to say that an elected official in our country founded a terrorist organization like ISIS is taking the facts that took place in 2011 and carrying that far too far.”

At a rally Wednesday Trump said Obama founded ISIS. He doubled down on the comments during a Thursday morning radio interview, calling Obama the "most valuable player" of the terrorist organization.

The former Chattanooga mayor was one of the first prominent Republicans to praise an early foreign policy speech from Trump. That led to Corker nearly joining Trump on the presidential ticket; Corker later bowed out of consideration, saying he would be better suited for a cabinet position. He has also criticized some Trump comments, including Trump's statements about the heritage of a judge hearing a case involving Trump University and the bombastic businessman's remarks in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Corker did not approve of Trump’s recent comment that “2nd Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton as president from appointing anti-gun judges, saying Trump's words “had no place in public discourse.”   - The Tennessean (subscription)

Trump offends Mormons - and the whole state of Utah

Trump makes play for evangelicals by noting his problems in Mormon-rich Utah 

ORLANDO — Donald Trump urged evangelical Christians to rally behind him in a speech here Thursday, seeking to ease their concerns about the Republican presidential nominee and proclaiming that sending him to the White House is crucial for the future of their movement.

Trump tried to draw a direct distinction between himself and Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, who would have become the nation’s first Mormon president. Echoing some post-2012 analysis suggesting that Romney’s religion led some evangelicals to stay home, Trump said “religion didn’t get out and vote” for the former governor, “whatever the reason.”

Throughout the day, Trump also intensified his attacks against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and President Obama, repeatedly casting them as co-founders of the Islamic State terrorist group as a result of their Middle East policies.  - The Washington Post (subscription)

GOP Donors have finally had enough 

Dozens of Republicans to urge RNC to cut off funds for Trump

More than 70 Republicans have signed an open letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus urging him to stop spending any money to help Donald Trump win in November and shift those contributions to Senate and House races.

The letter comes as a number of Republican senators and high-profile GOP national security officials have come forward saying they cannot vote for Trump.

“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” states a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO. “This should not be a difficult decision, as Donald Trump’s chances of being elected president are evaporating by the day.”   - Politico  

It's the economy

Clinton says Trump plan aids the rich

WARREN, Mich. — Hillary Clinton cast the presidential election Thursday as a choice between policies that would lift up American workers and those that would mostly help the very rich, attacking Donald Trump for advancing an agenda that “only benefits millionaires like himself.”

In a rebuttal to Trump’s economic policy speech in Detroit Monday, the Democratic presidential nominee offered a bullish assessment for the prospects of the middle class if she is in the White House — and accused Trump of peddling pessimism and misleading voters with claims he’s “on the side of the little guy.”

“Donald Trump wants America to work for him and his friends, at the expense of everyone else,” Clinton said. “He’s offered no credible plans to address what working families are up against today.”

Clinton promoted previously released proposals to make public college tuition-free for families making up to $125,000 a year, to prod companies to increase profit-sharing opportunities, and to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

“He may talk a big game on trade, but his approach is based on fear, not strength,” she said, adding a reference moments later to Olympic athletes: “If Team USA was as fearful as Trump, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles would be cowering in the locker room. Instead, they’re winning gold medals. America isn’t afraid to compete.”

In her remarks, Clinton chided Trump’s companies for making clothing and other products overseas and unveiled a new website that lists companies making similar products in the United States. She also zeroed in on a Trump proposal to dramatically reduce taxes on “pass-through” businesses, which do not pay corporate income taxes but whose owners are taxed at individual rates on their share of profits.

Such entities are the most common structure for small businesses — which would benefit from Trump’s plan — but they are also heavily utilized by the scores of companies that make up the Trump Organization. Clinton argued that the real estate mogul is attempting to give himself “a back-door tax cut” and characterize his proposal as the “Trump Loophole.”   - The Boston Globe


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Shelby Democratic Party votes to bar former chairman from running as Democrat

The Shelby County Democratic Party executive committee voted 14-5 Thursday night to declare former chairman Bryan Carson "not fit" to run for public office as a Democrat.

Executive committee member Del Gill proposed the resolution, which reiterated accusations made in a resolution approved by the committee June 2 that Carson embezzled "at least $25,000" during his tenure as committee chairman.

Gill has filed a criminal complaint against Carson, and said the investigation is ongoing. "The intent here is that Mr. Carson has some personal issues he needs to address," Gill said.

Carson, who denies the allegations, can appeal the vote to Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini, SCDP officials said at the meeting. Both Carson and his mother, Gale Jones Carson, are on the state executive committee.

"I was unaware they were taking that vote," he said late Thursday. "I'll contact chairman Pope and Mary Mancini this weekend and see what I need to do as far as getting bona fides back. I thought all this was over with."

The controversy has been festering for more than a year after bubbling over in February 2015, when Bryan Carson resigned after he couldn't account for some expenses during his tenure as chairman. He has already paid hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees he incurred, and gave the SCDP $2,000 in February.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription)



The 'Doctor' Behind the Dyin’ Hillary Meme

She heads an organization that thinks abortion causes breast cancer and vaccination causes autism

On Wednesday, pro-Trump website Breitbart published Dr. Jane Orient’s unfounded speculation that Hillary Clinton could be “medically unfit to serve,” referring to Dr. Orient as the “executive director of a physicians’ organization.”

AAPS is a small nonprofit organization with Tea Party ties that prioritizes “individual liberty, personal responsibility, [and] limited government.” Their journal, as Mother Jones reported, has published articles suggesting that abortion causes breast cancer, that vaccines cause autism, and that AIDS is not caused by HIV. All discredited theories.

In other words, there’s no proof for anything Orient says—and often, there’s evidence to the contradictory—but that didn’t stop Breitbart from lapping her words up and slapping it with the headline “Physician: Mainstream Media ‘Strangely Silent’ About Hillary Clinton’s Health.”

The reason for the silence is a complete lack of proof.

The irony of Orient adding fuel to that fire is that she herself is critical in the blog post of people who are “tossing out psychiatric diagnoses” such as narcissistic personality disorder to criticize Trump.

The American Psychiatric Association agrees with her. The so-called Goldwater Rule states: “[I]t is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” It follows that any physician should refrain from diagnosing—or floating potential diagnoses—for a presidential candidate unless they have personally examined them.

But even when asked why she would critique lay diagnoses of Trump if she engages in speculation about Clinton, Orient insisted that her choice was not unethical or hypocritical. “Asking questions based on observable events is not engaging in unfounded speculation,” she told The Daily Beast. “I feel it would be irresponsible to ‘choose’ not to raise important questions.”

When it comes to Hillary Clinton’s health, questions are all she has.  - The Daily Beast  

Bipartisan agreement

Republicans and Democrats Agree: CENTCOM Cooked ISIS War Intel

Two new congressional reports conclude senior military officials skewed information about the war to make it look like it was going better. The question is why.

Senior officials at U.S. Central Command manipulated intelligence reports, press statements, and congressional testimony to present a more positive outlook on the war against the so-called Islamic State, a House Republican task force concluded in a damning report released Thursday.

The report, written by the members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee,confirmed more than a year of reporting by The Daily Beast aboutproblems with CENTCOM analysis of the war against ISIS.

House Democrats, who conducted their own separate investigation, reached a similar conclusion as their Republican colleagues, finding that CENTCOM “insufficiently accommodated dissenting views,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

The amount of damage such misleading reports had on the Obama administration’s and the military’s overall understanding of the war on ISIS remains unclear. But the report noted that Ryckman and Grove had several secure conference calls with top civilian intelligence officials, including the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and that such access gave CENTCOM’s reports “outsized influence on the material presented to the president outside of formal coordination channels.”

“The impact was that you have a false signal being sent to officials,” Pompeo told The Daily Beast. “They had information what wasn’t true. It difficult to wind back and say what would have happened had they had different information.”   - The Daily Beas 

Thought for the day:

-- When the BBC compared Trump to Lord Voldemort from the “Harry Potter” series last December, author J.K. Rowling responded:   
“How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad.”



Your CPI Daily Buzz

Trump suggest shooting Hillary - no really, he actually did! 

Trump’s loaded words fuel campaign freefall

Barely 24 hours after Donald Trump delivered a speech intended to reset his staggering presidential campaign, his off-the-cuff suggestion that people resort to violence against his opponent has him right back in the ditch.

At a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump applied his signature sarcasm to a political third rail, stating that “the Second Amendment” may be the only way to stop Clinton from getting to appoint federal judges if she defeats him in November.

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment,” he said. “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”

The aside, delivered casually, drew light laughter from Trump’s crowd but a swift, emphatic rebuke from across the political spectrum, with Republicans and Democrats alike broadcasting their shock.

Clinton did not take any questions after her event in Miami on Tuesday, but the main super PAC supporting her, Priorities USA Action, immediately circulated the video clip of Trump making the statement with the subject line, “Donald Trump Just Suggested That Someone Shoot Hillary Clinton.” It offered a four-word statement: “This is not okay.”

But it’s only the latest example of the unscripted candidate’s sense of humor getting him in trouble in the context of a presidential campaign.

Just days ago, Trump stirred controversy at a news conference by encouraging Russia to spy on Clinton and to uncover the 33,000 emails deleted from her private server. After letting the controversy boil for more than a day, Trump and his campaign team attempted to argue that he was joking and not, in fact, nudging a foreign government — described by Trump’s predecessor as GOP nominee as America’s “greatest geopolitical foe” — to spy on his political opponent.

In both cases, the carelessness with words carries broad, serious implications — in the political realm and beyond. Trump’s “jokes” give his opponents fodder and force fellow Republicans into yet another round of inevitable disavowals and questions about whether they will continue to support their party’s nominee. In the past week, following Trump’s suggestion that the Russians hack Clinton’s server and his ensuing criticism of a Gold Star family whose son was killed in Iraq, mainstream Republicans have been distancing themselves from Trump with increasing velocity. 

But beyond politics, there are the potential real-world consequences of a presidential candidate — one who has spent the past week boldly asserting that the election itself may be “rigged” against him — speaking openly about citizens bearing arms as a response to Clinton presidency, especially in a country that is enduring a prolonged period of mass shootings by troubled, disaffected individuals and domestic terrorists, and rising violence enflamed by urban unrest and a fraying social fabric.

Trump has been scolded more than once during his campaign for promoting violence against political opponents. At a rally in Cedar Rapids on the day of the Iowa caucuses, Trump offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who attacked anyone trying to throw fruit at him. “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously,” he said. “Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.” As it turned out, there were no attempts to throw fruit at him at the rally.

Later in February, at a Las Vegas rally on the eve of the Nevada caucuses, Trump said of a protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

“We’re not allowed to punch back any more,” Trump lamented in Las Vegas. “You know what they used to do to a guy like that in a place like this?” he said. “They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

And last month, Trump said he’d like to “hit” speakers at the Democratic National Convention who spoke ill of him. “The things that were said about me. You know what, I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” Trump said. “I was gonna hit this guy so hard, his head would spin. He wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”

Martin Mulholland, a spokesman for the Secret Service, did not directly address the question of whether the agency — which provides protection to both Trump and Clinton — plans to investigate the remark, but he wrote in an email to POLITICO, “The Secret Service is aware of the comment.”   - Politico

Also read:  Trump in trouble over 'Second Amendment' remark By Louis Nelson

and:    Trump's "joke" will get real people killed   By Olivia Nuzzi (Daily Beast) 

and from CNN:

"If someone else would’ve said that outside the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the police questioning him," former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden told CNN's Jake Tapper. 

and finally from the Washington Post,

"Clinton has never said she wants to eliminate the Second Amendment. Even if she did, neither the president nor the Supreme Court nor lower-level federal judges have the power to do so. There are two ways to alter the Constitution. One requires a two-thirds vote of Congress and then approval by three-fourths of the nation's state legislatures. The other requires calling a constitutional convention and, again, approval by three-fourths of the states."

RNC suffers spate of Trump-related departures

The Republican National Committee has seen a spate of departures in recent months related to its embrace of Donald Trump, whom some former staffers felt uncomfortable supporting.

In recent months, deputy press secretary James Hewitt, spokesman Fred Brown, director of Hispanic media Ruth Guerra, and research analysts Lars Trautman and Colin Spence have all left the RNC with Trump as one of the reasons for their resignations, according to sources familiar with their decisions. At least three other staff members have also left the RNC with opposition to Trump as a contributing factor, according to multiple sources.

In total, at least 11 staffers have left the RNC since March, although not all of the departures were related to Trump.

Spence, who joined the RNC in June 2015 as a research analyst on the investigations team, left this June for a “variety of factors” but said he wasn’t “overjoyed with how the primary season went.”

“Personally I wasn’t comfortable working to elect him,” he said of Trump.

In interviews, others cited familiar reasons for their resistance to the nominee – that they couldn’t work to help elect a man they thought was not qualified to be president; that Trump’s insensitive statements turned them against him; that he wasn’t conservative enough. Some also said they worried about the stain that working to elect Trump could have on their resume. - Politico   

But on the other hand . . .

New Emails Show Clinton Foundation's Ties to State Dept.

Hillary Clinton faces renewed scrutiny over her private email use after newly released emails appear to show links between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during her time as secretary of state. 

In 44 emails released Tuesday, email exchanges between employees at the Clinton Foundation and the State Department appear to show the charitable foundation seeking influence over the actions of the State Department. In one exchange, Clinton aides apparently agreed to help find a job for an associate of the Clinton Foundation, at the request of the foundation. In another, a Clinton Foundation executive asks the State Department for assistance in putting a billionaire donor in touch with the ambassador to Lebanon. 

The new emails, released Tuesday by the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch, have renewed questions that have plagued Clinton throughout her presidential campaign about her use of a private email account for official business. The Federal Bureau of Investigation spent a year reviewing her email use, but it was unclear whether they probed a possible overlap between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. Clinton's campaign has denied that the new emails show any foul play, and that Clinton herself had anything to do with them.  THE NEW YORK TIMES  (subscription)


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 Chart of the day

Kids and guns

Dozens of children shot in Tennessee this year

In addition to the nine children who died from gunfire, at least 36 children have been injured by guns in the state this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive analyzed by the Safe Tennessee Project, a nonprofit group that tracks gun violence.

Fifteen injured children were victims of unintentional shootings, according to the Safe Tennessee Project. In the past week alone, five Tennessee children have been shot:

On Monday, it was a 15-year-old boy in Memphis, just before noon on his first day back at school. His injuries are not life threatening. The same day, a Nashville teen was seriously injured after being shot in the hip and leg near downtown. On Sunday, a teenager was one of three people struck by bullets in an apparent drive-by shooting in Chattanooga. And on Saturday, it was a 4-year-old child in Memphis, who was grazed by a bullet.

"Most of the accidental shootings of children we see are by children," Roth said. "They don't involve parents shooting their kids." 

Tennessee ranks in the top seven states for rates of unintentional firearm deaths, according to the study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Other states include West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama.  - The Tennessean  (subscription)


Don't vote? Don't gripe

Tennessee Ranks Virtually Dead Last In Voter Turnout

Tennessee has had some of the lowest voter turnout of any state in the nation. That's according to a new analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which shows the state ranking virtually at the bottom for the last few election cycles.

Only 29 percent of voters went to the polls in 2014 — a six percent drop from 2010.

Though the totals were not included in this report, turnout was even lower in last week's local elections, though voters like Donna Coss of South Nashville made sure to cast a ballot.

"We just think it's important, and you can't gripe if you don't vote," she said with a laugh.

The new Pew research finds that Tennessee ranked 50th in voter turnout in the most recent year data is available. But since the figures include Washington D.C., that's not actually dead last. Texas is the state that came in 51st.

Tennessee fares better on voter registration, which was at 74 percent and a ranking of 40th in the nation.

Click through the state's complete profile here, where Pew has also ranked states based on something researchers are calling an "elections performance index."

Turnout could turn around this year. The March 1st Presidential Primary set a record.   -  WPLN


Thought for the day:

"People react to fear, not love; they don't teach that in Sunday School, but it's true."  - Richard M. Nixon


Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 9, 2016

Affordable Care

TN Insurers win chance to seek higher Obamacare premiums

In an effort to prevent more insurers from abandoning the Obamacare exchange in Tennessee, the state's insurance regulator is allowing health insurers refile 2017 rate requests by Aug. 12 after Cigna and Humana said their previously requested premium hikes were too low.

Cigna and Humana filed to increase last year's premiums an average of 23 and 29 percent, respectively, on June 10. But in the interim, both insurance companies have told state regulators that the requests would not cover the expected claims, said Kevin Walters, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

If granted, the higher requests would mean bigger jumps in monthly premiums for many people.

"In an effort to balance affordability and availability, the department will allow insurers to refile rate requests on the marketplace in order to prevent possible withdrawal," Walters said. “This is not an easy decision and Tennessee is not alone in choosing to allow insurers to refile their requests."   - Tennessean (subscription)


Rep. Joe Armstrong found guilty on one felony count

After four days of testimony and five hours of deliberations, a federal jury served up one felony conviction for state Rep. Joe Armstrong on filing a false tax return and an acquittal on two other related felonies.

Armstrong, a 28-year veteran of the legislature who just last week won his unopposed Democratic primary race, left U.S. District Court with defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs after the verdict’s announcement and neither took questions.

Later on Monday Isaacs said, “We were pleased the jury returned a verdict of not guilty and acquitted Representative Armstrong on two of the most serious felony counts, although he was convicted of a lesser, more technical violation of filing a false return.”

Armstrong faces a maximum of three years in prison on the false tax return count, but sentencing guidelines probably will be lower.

The jury acquitted him of conspiring with his accountant, Charles Stivers, to defraud the IRS by hiding his windfall from a sin tax hike through Stivers’ investment firm and of evading taxes, which, unlike the false return charge, required a “willful,” or deliberate, act.  - Tennessean (subscription)

Taxing debate

Proposed Tennessee sales tax rule has internet retailers and brick-and-mortar stores fighting

A proposed Tennessee Revenue Department rule that would require out-of-state retailers to begin collecting Tennessee sales taxes on items sold here is pitting state-based retailers who use the internet, catalogs and cable to sell across the country against traditional brick-and-mortar stores that don't.

At a departmental hearing on the proposed rule Monday, opponents testified against the plan to require remote sellers with no physical presence in Tennessee to begin collecting sales taxes from in-state buyers in 2017.

States like Tennessee require in-state retailers to collect state and local sales taxes. But two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the second one rendered back in 1992 before the explosion of the internet and internet commerce, bar states from requiring sellers with no physical presence in their state to collect sales taxes.

While representatives for traditional brick-and-mortars didn't testify, they filed letters in support of the proposed rule, which would require out-of-state vendors who sell to Tennesseans to charge state and local sales taxes that can hit 9.75 percent.

Opponents' chief concern is that other states may retaliate.  - Chattanooga Times Free Press (subscription)

"Would put our country at risk."

50 Former National Security Officials Say Trump 'Not Qualified to Be President'

Fifty former national security officials whose careers span more than four decades released a letter today critical of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, stating that they would not vote for the real estate mogul in November.

The statement — signed by a former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, ex-secretaries of homeland security and former top aides and advisers for the White House, State Department and Department of Justice, among others — is the latest in a series of public rebukes of Trump’s capacity to guide the nation’s defense and foreign policy by former government leaders.

“Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander-in-chief,” reads the letter. “Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

The letter goes on to assail Trump for what the authors say is his uncertain temperament, his lack of knowledge of U.S. laws and the Constitution and his complimentary attitude toward some of the country’s adversaries.

“Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values and experience to be president,” the letter reads. “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”

Among those who signed the letter are Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, both of whom served as secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush, and retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who directed the NSA and CIA.   - ABC News   

The defections continue
Why some Republican politicians are really coming out against Trump


-- The most important storyline of August is how many Republicans come out against their party’s nominee. If the base fractures, Donald Trump is doomed. So far, while a string of elites and vulnerable incumbents in blue states have defected, the grassroots has mostly – if reluctantly – coalesced.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announces in a new op-ed for The Post that she will not vote for Trump. The centrist cites his mocking of a disabled reporter, his attacks on a federal judge over his Mexican heritage and his feud with the Muslim American parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq. (Read her full piece here.)

Fifty former national security officials who served in Republican administrations signed an open letter, released yesterday, saying they will not support Trump because “he would be the most reckless President in American history.

-- With the notable exception of Ted Cruz, commentators and pundits have covered GOP politicians who have spoken out against Trump as courageous and brave. While these are agonizing, career-defining decisions for lawmakers, they are also at heart based on cold political calculus. And that must not be lost in the conversation.

Most politicians respond more to political incentives than principles. That’s the single most important insight to understanding how Washington really works.

-- Every Republican who has bucked Trump can be pretty easily categorized. A clear pattern emerges: the less directly and immediately accountable to Republican base voters an elected official is, the more likely he or she is to break with Trump.   - The Daily 202, Washington Post (subscription.)

Never-ending saga

Parents of Benghazi Victims Sue Hillary Clinton

The families of two Americans killed at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi are suing Hillary Clinton for their sons’ deaths and for allegedly defaming them in public statements. The lawsuit, filed Monday, claims that Clinton exercised “extreme carelessness” in dealing with “confidential and classified information” in her role as secretary of State. 

The lawsuit states Clinton likely sent and received information about the whereabouts and activities of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, though no connection has  ever been proven

Clinton has testified for hours before House committees over the attack, and faced an FBI investigation over her use of her private email server. A spokesman for Clinton wrote in a statement, “While no one can imagine the pain of the families of the brave Americans we lost at Benghazi, there have been nine different investigations into this attack and none found any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton.”  - The Daily Beast   

Politico's Playbook sez:

There is increasing concern in news and political circles that Donald Trump will not agree to the three slated presidential debates this fall, a historic break with political norms in the lead-up to the election. The three bouts -- organized by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates -- are Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York, Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis andOct. 19 in Las Vegas. They are usually wonky and tightly scripted affairs, and offer the next true reset point in the race for the White House.

Debate moderators have not been announced, but Republican and Democratic sources, senior media executives and anchors in New York and Washington are casting serious doubt about whether Trump will agree to participate in the primetime events.

Multiple typically chatty Trump sources either passed the buck or did not respond to emails about whether the GOP presidential nominee is committed to participating. Hillary Clinton's campaign on Monday evening publicly accepted the invitation to the affairs -- a move aimed at eliciting a response from Trump. During any other presidential cycle, attendance at the debates would never be in doubt.


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 "Ridiculously false," "misleading juxtaposition," "absurd," "incorrect," "doesn't tell the full picture," "ridiculous talking point," "taken out of context"

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s speech to the Detroit Economic Club

In an effort to reset his troubled presidential campaign, Donald Trump gave a prepared speech to the Detroit Economic Club, an important venue for major economic addresses. Here’s a guide to 16 of the more fact-challenged assertions made by the GOP nominee. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios in speech roundups.

 “Hillary Clinton short-circuited again — to use a now famous term — when she accidentally told the truth and said she wanted to raise taxes on the middle class.”

This is ridiculously false — something that earned Trump a “Pants on Fire” from our friends at PolitiFact three days ago. It is appalling that it still turns up in a prepared speech.   Read the rest in the Fact-Checker at The Washington Post (subscription)

The apple didn't fall far from the tree

Ivanka Trump champions working moms — except the ones who design her clothes

On the last day of the Republican National Convention in July, Ivanka Trump strode across the stage in a blush-toned dress from her namesake label. Then she shattered party norms, pledging that her father would revolutionize support for working mothers.

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties,” she declared. “They should be the norm.”

The eldest Trump daughter, 34, has built her personal brand around this cause, penning a book called “Women Who Work” and leading the family-friendly policy charge on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. But the company that designs her clothing line, including the $157 sheath she wore during her convention speech, does not offer workers a single day of paid maternity leave.

As Trump delivered her prime-time speech, a fashion designer for the G-III Apparel Groupwatched from her home in New York City and rolled her eyes. The employee of nearly four years, a registered Republican who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job, said she became pregnant last year and was dismayed to learn the company allows just 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the legal minimum for employers with more than 50 workers. So, she burned her vacation days, drained her savings and then relied on her husband’s income after giving birth to her son.

“It’s hard enough emotionally to come back to work right after having a baby,” said the designer, who works for another brand at G-III. “But to know you’re returning to a company that doesn’t value your choice to be a mother makes it harder.”

Through a spokeswoman, Trump declined to comment for this story.  - The Washington Post (subscription)

Dept. of Ill-Advised Comments, Rubio Edition

Rubio admits somebody else voted for him 

The Democratic group American Bridge caught Florida Sen. Marco Rubio admitting that, because of his leadership roles in Florida's legislature, he had another legislator cast his votes for him most of the time. 

While totally allowed and a common practice, it might not be the best story to tell when you're under fire for missing votes in D.C. "I was never in my chair and he was, so he would vote for me, which is allowed under the rules," Rubio said at an event last week. "He voted for me. He casted 67 percent of my votes. He was pressing that button. 

Later that year I was named Bay County legislator of the year because of my voting record." Watch the quick clip here:  See it on YouTube

Thought for the day:

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."  - James Madison


Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 8, 2016

Davidson County property tax alert 

Homeowners: Prepare for higher property tax bills

There is a looming housing challenge that will touch middle-class people in Nashville, and it requires the urgent attention of city leaders, residents and homeowners.

That challenge is Davidson County’s quadrennial property reappraisal in 2017, which will lead to substantial property tax increases for homeowners in the parts of town where home values have risen the most.

The rise of property values is generally a good thing for homeowners, and Davidson home values areestimated by the county Property Assessor’s Officeto have grown on average between 33 percent and 37 percent from the last reappraisal in 2013.

That growth along with new construction will almost certainly create a windfall for Metro Nashville-Davidson government, where 49 percent of the city’s operating budget revenue presently comes from property tax revenue.

However, Nashville’s property taxation system is directly tied to home values, which means if a house in a hot area of town has doubled, so will the tax bill.

(Calculate your tax bill using the Assessor’s Office tax estimator at   - The Tennessean (subscription)    

Could this go statewide?

Trend? Nashville voters again reject negative campaigning

For the second consecutive Nashville election, the candidates who favored negative campaigns, or who were supported by negative messages from outside groups, lost.

Mayor Megan Barry soundly defeated David Fox in the mayoral runoff election when Fox, who had run a surprisingly strong general election campaign that focused on what made him different from the other six candidates, embraced a series of negative and partisan messages in the nonpartisan race.

Much of Stand for Children’s efforts on behalf of challengers to Metro school board incumbents were negative messages that did not rally voters to the polls. - Tennessean (subscription)  

Cohen presses for Weisel recognition

Steve Cohen seeks Washington honor for Elie Wiesel

Rep. Steve Cohen considers Elie Wiesel one of the greatest people to ever walk the Earth.

The Romanian-born, Jewish-American writer survived both the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II, then made it his mission to never let the world forget the Holocaust.

To remind Americans of Wiesel's sacrifices — and his contributions to the world — Cohen is leading a campaign to place a statue of Wiesel in the U.S. Capitol.

"Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral forces in the world," said Cohen, a Memphis Democrat. "He was brilliant, pure, honest and courageous."

Wiesel died July 2 in his home in Manhattan at age 87. During his long, distinguished career, the journalist, professor, author and political activist was showered with numerous accolades, including the Congressional Gold Medal and the Nobel Peace Prize.

"He was one of my heroes," Cohen said.

Just days after Wiesel's passing, Cohen filed legislation calling for a statue to be placed in the Capitol in his honor. The bill has two dozen cosponsors and has been sent to the House Committee on House Administration, where it awaits a hearing.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription)

Tom Humphrey talks campaign spending

Independent spending trends more interesting

Speculating on trends on money in Tennessee politics, halfway through the 2016 election season:

In the 2014 legislative elections, the cheapest seat in the House was won by state Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, who reported spending a total of $235.38 in winning re-election. In a solidly Democratic district, he had no primary opponent that year, but he did have a token Republican foe who reported spending exactly $200.

The most expensive 2014 House seat, going by total campaign expenditures, went to Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, who spent $270,141 to be re-elected. In a solidly Republican district, he had a primary opponent who was outspent substantially, but no November foe.

On the Senate side, the most expensive seat two years ago was won by Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, at a cost of $455,028, with Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a close runner-up at $451,309. The cheap seat went to Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, at $46,362. She was running at the time in a seat vacated by her husband and is up again this year for a full four-year term. Briggs and Yarbro are not.The striking upward trend, instead, is in independent expenditures, both reported and unreported. This spending, which under relevant laws cannot be coordinated with a candidate, was something of a novelty in Tennessee politics just a decade or so ago. Now it's a big thing and, conceivably, on its way to becoming the biggest thing.

In 2014, total independent expenditures in legislative races — those reported — were about $1.6 million. This year, as of July 25, just three groups with education legislation agendas had reported spending of more than $1 million. As a rough guess, based on very incomplete skimming of other reports, that may be about half the total that will ultimately be disclosed in spending leading up to last week's primaries.

Unreported expenditures, well, that's anyone's guess. Under relevant law, if an ad directly asks the reader or listener to vote for or against a candidate, it must be disclosed. If it just educates everyone to the proclaimed fact that candidate A is scum or candidate B is a shining example of virtue, that doesn't get reported.

Just to speculate, unreported spending is exceeding the reported stuff. And the reported stuff, it should be noted, often comes from out-of-state parent PACs that don't disclose their donors. So maybe that's the overall big trend. To seek office, you should be rich or side on issues with those who are wealthy enough to sponsor independent expenditures. At least until educated voters ignore them.   - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription)


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Trump polling woes deepen

Clinton Opens 23-Point Lead Among Women, Gains With Democrats as Trump Struggles (POLL)

Hillary Clinton has advanced among women and consolidated support within her party since her nominating convention, while a difficult few weeks have left Donald Trump still struggling on basic ratings from his temperament to his qualifications for office. She leads him by 8 points in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Trump's ratings in general haven't worsened –- they just haven't improved since he claimed the Republican nomination. And the trouble list is long: Seventy-nine percent of Americans say he doesn’t show enough respect for people he disagrees with, 70 percent express anxiety about a Trump presidency, 67 percent think he lacks the personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively, 64 percent doubt his understanding of world affairs, 63 percent see him unfavorably overall, 62 percent say he's not honest and trustworthy, 61 percent think he's unqualified for office and 60 percent think he's biased against women and minorities.

See PDF with full results here.       - ABC NEWS

But it's gonna be close no matter how you slice it 

The Daily 202: Trump’s floor in the polls is probably higher than you think

THE BIG IDEA: Perceptions of Donald Trump have basically hardened and appear increasingly baked into the cake.

After one of the worst weeks of his campaign, the Republican nominee only trails Hillary Clinton by 8 points in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll of registered voters.

Last month -- before both conventions, before he picked an unwinnable fight with Gold Star parents and before he spent days pointedly refusing to endorse a trio of top Republicans – Trump trailed by 4 points. (The margin of sampling error happens to be, plus or minus, 4 percent.)

Three in four registered voters disapproved of how the billionaire handled criticism from Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Just 13 percent approved of his back-and-forth with the Muslim American couple whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq.

-- They don’t generate buzzy headlines, but sometimes the most interesting numbers in a poll are the ones that do not change from one month to the next. Our poll found only a slight rise since July in the share of voters saying Trump is biased against women and minorities (56 percent now, 53 percent last month). There was also little change in the share of voters who said Trump does not show enough respect for people he disagrees with (77 percent now vs. 74 percent back in May).

“The lack of big change on these measures suggests these views of Trump are sturdy,” pollster Scott Clement explains. “The unpopular debate with the Khans did not surprise people who already saw Trump as disrespectful, nor did it change the views of many Trump supporters, even those who disapproved of his handling of the issue.”

Trump’s image is basically unchanged from a month ago. He’s viewed favorably by 36 percent and unfavorably by 61 percent. Fifty-eight percent say Trump is not qualified to be president and 68 percent say the idea of Trump as president makes them anxious. Both numbers are identical to last month.

-- The durability in these indicators – considering the news and the degree to which it has broken through – suggests that Trump will garner at least 40 percent of the national popular vote in November and probably a couple of points more.For context, Mitt Romney got an ironic 47 percent. (This does not preclude a much more lopsided result in the Electoral College.)  - Daily 202, The Washington Post  (subscription) 

Funny money, pretty shady

Watchdog Group Files Complaint With IRS Against Trump Foundation

A government watchdog is taking legal action in an effort to compel the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether Donald Trump’s charitable foundation violated its tax-exempt status by engaging in political activity on behalf of the Republican nominee’s presidential campaign.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a left-leaning government watchdog group, is filing a formal complaint to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Monday morning, citing the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s highly publicized contributions to veterans charities that were doled out earlier this year—which could be a violation of its nonprofit status.

If the IRS audits the Trump Foundation and it is determined to have violated regulations governing nonprofits, the charitable organization could lose its tax-exempt status and the Republican nominee himself could be subject to excise taxes.

Tax-exempt organizations like the Trump Foundation—of which Trump is the president—are strictly prohibited from engaging in political activity.

“The Trump Foundation appears to have violated this prohibition by participating in Mr. Trump’s campaign and advocating for Mr. Trump’s nomination and election,” Noah Bookbinder, CREW’s executive director, writes in the complaint.

The Daily Beast reported in June that the foundation has been operating essentially as a political slush fund, and that it has been coordinating with the campaign in a way that likely violates both IRS and Federal Election Commission regulations.

Monday’s legal action was prompted in part by the presentation of checks to veterans charities that were paid by the foundation, which had Trump’s campaign logo and its signature slogan—“Make America Great Again”—imprinted on them.

The Daily Beast previously reported that campaign staffers were in direct contact with the veterans charities on behalf of both the Trump Foundation and the Trump Organization ahead of formal presentations of the checks, suggesting improper coordination among the three entities. Two of them—the foundation and the charity—are subject to IRS and FEC rules, respectively.

Representatives from two of the charities that received $100,000 checks from the Trump Foundation told The Daily Beast they were in direct communication with Trump campaign staffers, including its spokeswoman, Hope Hicks.

In January, Trump pledged $6 million—which was never completely accounted for—to charities that work to help military veterans after the candidate skipped a Fox News primary debate over an ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly. The money raised at an event the same night as the debate went to the Trump Foundation instead of directly to the charitable organizations, and the checks were doled out in the succeeding months.

“Those checks unquestionably communicated the Trump for President’s campaign slogan, and in the context of a campaign rally designed to advocate for Mr. Trump’s nomination and at which Mr. Trump spoke, the use of the slogan can have no reasonable meaning other than to urge his election,” CREW’s complaint says.

The Daily Beast’s calls to the phone number listed on the foundation’s annual disclosures routinely led to staffers within the Trump Organization. Multiple attempts to speak with a foundation staffer were unsuccessful, suggesting that the foundation exists largely on paper.

If the IRS finds evidence of illegal behavior, the organization’s tax-exempt status could be taken away and its purveyor—who has not made his tax returns public—could be forced to pay up.  - The Daily Beast  

Billy Moore Reports from Washington

With Florida reporting the first non-travel related cases of the Zika virus, President Barack Obama, Congress, governors, state lawmakers and local officials began new rounds of condemnation for inaction to prevent the spread of the disease.

Before leaving Washington for a two-month recess, Congress failed to pass an emergency supplemental appropriation to address the Zika virus. Republicans advanced a partisan measure through the House, but Senate Democrats stymied the bill because of poison pill riders forbidding funds to family planning clinics and waiving environmental protections.

The Office of Management and Budget reprogrammed $589 million in unspent funds to the Zika fight last April. Of that amount, $374 million went to domestic agencies that obligated most of the funds. Funds yet to be spent will go to emergency response teams, Zika testing and grants to kill mosquitoes. $215 million is being used for international response efforts.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is seeking reelection in November, has promised to restart negotiations. If a deal is not reached in early

September, the fight will become part of the debate over a Continuing Resolution to prevent a government shutdown October 1. The House Freedom Caucus, which is enraged over the primary defeat last Tuesday of its member Tim Huelskamp at the hands of Speaker Paul Ryan's allies, is threatening to force another shutdown.

The post-convention period is when many congressional incumbents poll their states and districts to determine their political vulnerability. With President Obama, Democrats and Hillary Clinton posting impressive poll numbers since the conventions, the level of partisan gridlock could reach new heights in September.

Although economic growth in the second quarter registered a paltry 1.2 percent rate, the July jobs report showed growth of 255,000 new hires, with wages climbing more than forecasted and workers picking up more hours.

Billy Moore is a partner at ViaNovo, a strategic consulting firm with offices in Washington, DC, Austin, Dallas and Mexico City

Thought for the day: 

"Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." - Thomas Jefferson


Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 4, 2016 - Day after Election Issue


The passing of a ceiling breaker

Jane Eskind, Tennessee trailblazer, dead at 83

Jane Eskind, a political pioneer who became the first woman ever to win a statewide election in Tennessee, died Thursday. She was 83.

Eskind was elected to the Public Service Commission in 1980, coasting to victory in the general election after a hard-fought race in the Democratic primary. The commission is now known as the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and is no longer an elected board. Eskind also would serve as its first chairwoman during her tenure.

She told The Tennessean at the time her election “dispels a myth that women cannot win statewide elections in Tennessee.” She went on to run for other state offices and became the first woman to chair the state Democratic Party, eventually counting presidents among her allies.

Former President Bill Clinton called Eskind “the picture of perseverance and bravery.” He said in a statement Thursday that because of her “determination and commitment to win, she was an example to all women that they, too, could break into the so-called man’s world."

Former Vice President Al Gore, who sought Eskind’s advice and guidance through the years, called her “a selfless public servant and dynamic leader with a tremendous spirit who made history in Tennessee politics."

“She was also a close and dear personal friend with whom I had the great pleasure of working for many decades. Throughout that time, I saw her stand up to prejudice, speak out against injustice, and work her heart out for all the people of Tennessee and for her beloved nation,” Gore said in a statement. “We have lost a great Tennessean who will be missed by all who knew her. I will miss her dearly.”

A Louisville, Ky., native who later moved to Nashville, Eskind earned the role as trailblazer in 1978 when she became the first woman in Tennessee to win a primary for statewide election. She bested a former state Senate majority leader to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Although she would lose in her bid to oust popular incumbent U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, a Republican, she garnered national attention for her efforts — then-President Jimmy Carter swung through the state to speak on her behalf.

She also ran in the Democratic primary for governor in 1986. In 1987, Eskind also ran as a Democrat for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Nashville. The congressional election, which also included former Gov. Phil Bredesen as candidate, was won by Bob Clement.

Beyond running for or serving in public office, Eskind remained active in Democratic Party politics.

“She was a force of nature in the Democratic Party,” said Bredesen, who counted Eskind as a friend and adviser. During Eskind’s prime, a candidate “couldn’t and shouldn’t run for office as a Democrat without coming to her.”

Bredesen said Eskind’s tenacity helped establish a path for generations of female politicians — Democrats and Republicans.  - Tennessean (subscription)

Comeuppance - in a landslide 

Sam Whitson defeats Jeremy Durham in Williamson primary

A political newcomer ousted a former rising star in the Tennessee Republican Party on Thursday night.

But in reality, the voters of Williamson County sent a clear message: They would not stand for myriad sexual misdeeds reportedly committed by embattled state Rep. Jeremy Durham.

Challenger Sam Whitson trounced the former House majority whip, earning 3,682 votes compared with 645 for Durham, according to final but unofficial results. Stacey Givens, who pulled out of the race but did so too late to have her name removed from the ballot, received 303 votes.  - The Tennessean (subscription)

Kustoff, Cohen win in West

Kustoff wins 8th Congressional District primary, Flinn comes in second

Attorney David Kustoff defeated 12 opponents to capture the Republican primary for Tennessee's 8th Congressional district Thursday night, all but guaranteeing that he will go to Washington to succeed Stephen Fincher in the U.S. House of Representatives.

And in the 9th Congressional District, which includes much of Memphis and its immediate surroundings, Democratic incumbent Steve Cohen took about 86 percent of the primary vote, easily beating challengers Larry Crim, Justin Ford and M. LaTroy Williams. Cohen is likely to win the November general election in the Democratic district versus Republican Wayne Alberson and independent Paul Cook.

With all 15 of the 8th District's counties reporting, Kustoff had 27 percent of the vote outdistancing the other candidates. Under the ground rules, he did not need a majority of votes to win. There is no runoff election.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription) 

Big loss for "dark money"

Stand for Children loses big in Nashville, state races

More than $750,000 buys plenty of campaign mailers and advertisements. But it doesn't necessarily buy election wins.

Stand for Children, an education advocacy organization, found that out the hard way Thursday night. After spending a small fortune, all four candidates it backed in the Metro school board election and a handful of state GOP primary candidates lost their races.

"I think Nashville has become a model of how you defeat an obscene amount of dark money in local school board elections," said Jamie Hollin, a former Metro councilman and political operative. "At the end of the day, there's a certain sanctity between public school parents and their locally elected school board. And it's not for sale to the highest bidder."  - Tennessean (subscription) 

More legal trouble for "dark money" group

Group Asks Nashville District Attorney To Investigate Spending In School Board Races

A Nashville advocacy group is calling for an investigation into spending in Metro's school board races, alleging Stand for Children, a pro-charter organization based in Oregon, has broken Tennessee election law.

Tennessee Citizen Action is accusing Stand for Children's political action committee of illegally coordinating with charter supporters to place four candidates on the school board: Miranda Christy, Thom Druffel, Jackson Miller and Jane Grimes Meneely

Records show that Stand PAC has spent more than $200,000 on the Metro school board races. But Tennessee Citizen Action says the issue isn't just how much Stand PAC has put into the races; it's how that money has been used.

"They're spending an incredible, unprecedented amount of money in the race, and they're doing it through coordination. Which is illegal," said the group's attorney, Gerard Stranch.

Under Tennessee law, PACs aren't supposed to work directly with campaigns. But Tennessee Citizen Action said Stand PAC has been recruiting field workers for the candidates and calling voters. What's more, Dan O'Donnell, Stand for Children's political director, and Druffel also met last week — evidence, the organization said, that the two sides are working together.   - WPLN


DesJarlais Survives Another Challenge, While Black Wins Handily

Congressman Scott DesJarlais held off Murfreesboro attorney Grant Starrett in the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District.

Starrett spent about $1 million in his attempt to dislodge DesJarlais, who's faced tough races since coming to Congress in the tea party wave six years ago. Previous challengers include state Sen. Jim Tracy and former state Sen. Eric Stewart.

This time around, DesJarlais's opponent was a young attorney who had never held elected office before. He attacked Starrett for being relatively new to the district, having moved to Rutherford County just last year. DesJarlais called him "Mr. California."

DesJarlais will take on Steven Reynolds, a construction industry executive, in the general election.  - WPLN

All the results from PolitiKnox

Tennessee voting results for the Aug. 4 elections click here

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 Voters are finally paying attention 

Hillary Clinton’s Lead Over Donald Trump Widens to 9 Points, Poll Shows

Republican Donald Trump showed signs that he is trying to get his campaign back on track amid a series of recent missteps, as a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found Democrat Hillary Clintonopening a 9-point lead nationally over the New York businessman.

Mrs. Clinton’s lead, at 47% to 38%, grew from 5 percentage pointsbefore the conventions in July. The finding comes as Mr. Trump and anxious Republicans are trying to shift focus away from GOP infighting and personality politics.

At a rally in Portland, Maine, on Thursday, a more restrained Mr. Trump read parts of his speech from notes and kept his attention trained on Mrs. Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton can never be trusted with national security,” he said, which elicited cheers of “Lock her up!”

The decline in Mr. Trump’s national standing is in keeping with a spate of battleground-state pollsthat found an erosion of Mr. Trump’s support. Those included surveys released Wednesday and Thursday showing Mrs. Clinton with double-digit leads in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire and ahead by 9 points in Michigan.  - The Wall Street Journal (subscription)

The Donald's Daily Lie (repeated ad nauseum) 

Trump continues to claim, with no evidence, that Iran released a video of a cash transfer from the U.S.

Donald Trump continued to say on Thursday that he has seen video footage taken by the Iranian government that shows the United States delivering $400 million in cash in January, even though his spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday night that the Republican nominee had instead seen footage of three released American prisoners arriving in Switzerland.

Several senior U.S. officials involved in the Iran negotiations told the Associated Press they weren't aware of any such video, and there was speculation that perhaps Trump saw it during one of the classified security briefings provided to presidential nominees, although those briefings have not yet begun. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who was traveling in Argentina on Thursday, told reporters that he was unaware of any such video, according to the Associated Press.

Late Wednesday night, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to an email from The Washington Post that asked if the footage Trump was referencing was actually widely shown video of a private plane landing in Switzerland in January with three American prisoners who had just been released by Iran, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

"Yes," spokeswoman Hope Hicks wrote in an email. "Merely the b-roll footage included in every broadcast."

Hicks has yet to respond to a series of follow-up questions.   - The Washington Post (subscription)

But wait - pigs do fly!

Trump Admits Lying About ‘Secret’ Iran Video

Donald Trump has finally admitted he got something wrong. After publicly declaring multiple times this week that he had seen “top-secret” footage of a plane unloading money the same day the Iranian government released four American detainees, the Republican presidential nominee finally admitted that video does not exist. 

“The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!” he tweeted early Friday. Trump initially told a crowd Wednesday that he’d seen the nonexistent video—footage he claimed was filmed by the Iranian government to “embarrass” the United States. 

The next day, however, Trump’s own spokeswoman said the video was actually of prisoners being released. Nevertheless, Trump doubled down, again repeating the claim even after it had been debunked by his own campaign.  The Daily Beast  

Thought for the day:

"If I were @HillaryClinton, I might embark on summer tour of America's splendid national parks & cede the stage entirely to @realDonaldTrump."   - David Axelrod (Tweet)


Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 4, 2016 - It's Primary day in Tennessee


Primary day in Tennessee!

What to know before you vote in the Tennessee primary election

Despite the fact there are no statewide elections on the ballot this year, Thursday's primary election will provide voters an opportunity to weigh in on contentious races for Metro school board seats, Metro council, the state legislature and Congress.

That means voters throughout the state will decide who will appear on the ballot in the November general election for state House of Representatives and Senate. All 99 House seats are up re-election, while 16 of the Senate's 33 seats are up for a vote.

What you need to know about Thursday's primary election:

1) Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

2) Bring a valid state or federal government issued photo ID.

3) Be prepared to say which ballot — Democrat or Republican for the state primary, or just a General ballot if you don't want to vote in a state-level race — you want when you enter the polling place.  

Hot races today

THURSDAY PRIMARIES - "New DesJarlais challenge highlights Tennessee primaries," by Campaign Pro's Maggie Severns: Republican primaries in three safely conservative seats are the main events when Tennessee voters go to the polls for their unusual Thursday primary. Two incumbents, GOP Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Diane Black, have primary opponents running challenges to the right, while a flock of 13 candidates is gunning for retiring Rep. Stephen Fincher 's district. Ultra-conservative, self-funding 28-year-old Grant Starrett has been attacking DesJarlais on abortion issues while allies of Joe Carr, who is running against Black, are trying to coax Donald Trump voters to turn out on Carr's behalf. But it's the challenge to DesJarlais, who has been targeted since 2012 revelations that he had affairs with medical patients and urged one to have an abortion, that has attracted the most attention."

Polls du jour

DISASTER for Trump --

Donald Trump is down nine points in Michigan, 15 points in New Hampshire and 11 points in Pennsylvania, according to three new polls out this morning.

Hillary Clinton is beating Trump 41 percent to 32 percent in a Detroit News poll of Michigan, a state the GOP nominee's team says is crucial to winning the White House. Sixty percent of voters in Michigan say Trump is not qualified to be president. 

In New Hampshire, WBUR found Clinton is up 47 percent to 32 percent. Trump and Clinton were running neck and neck there two months ago. 

And in a Franklin and Marshall poll in Pennsylvania, Clinton is up 49 percent to 38 percent among likely voters. 

New Hampshire poll ... Michigan poll ... Pennsylvania poll  

They're freaking out  

GOP worries over Trump intensify

Republicans are freaking out about Donald Trump -- but the candidate himself is insisting his campaign has never been in better shape. "The campaign is doing really well. It's never been so well united. It's the best in terms of being united since we began. We are doing incredibly well," Trump said in Daytona Beach, Florida, today.

Republican leaders and even senior members of his own team expressed frustration with Tuesday's political meltdown -- which featured an intra-party attack on Paul Ryan and John McCain, more Khan family insults and calling out a crying baby from a campaign event. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was especially furious with Trump's refusal to endorse Ryan in his GOP primary. And Trump's running mate, Mike Pencebroke with Trump to endorse Ryan on Fox News. A source told CNN that some of Trump's campaign staff "feel like they are wasting their time."

The latest GOP defection: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, who told CNN's Wolf Blitzer this evening he can't support Trump. "No matter what the political cost to me, I'm an American before a Republican," he said. "I won't be silent. He can tweet all he wants."

Quite a conference call: Trump's senior staff -- Jason Miller placed the call in a room with Paul ManafortRick GatesHope Hicks and Stephen Miller -- rang CNN's Dana Bash today to make clear they're not frustrated with their candidate. "Frankly the frustration we have is with you all, because you’re not covering our side of the campaign. That’s our frustration," Manafort said. More from CNN's Stephen Collinson and Dana.

What Hillary Clinton is doing with Trump in turmoil: Sitting back and watching, per CNN's MJ Lee.

The three-minute video to watch todayThis New York Times take on Trump rallygoers -- uncensored.   

No, wait - Russia's in Ukraine? 

Trump Campaign Changed Ukraine Platform, Lied About It

Top Trump aide Paul Manafort swore that the campaign had nothing to do with a radical change in the official Republican Party position on Ukraine. He was lying.

The Trump campaign went out of its way to dramatically alter the Republican Party’s official position on Ukraine—against the wishes of GOP hawks and despite senior Trump aide Paul Manafort’s insistence that they weren’t involved.

The move, first reported by The Washington Post, alienated Republicans who have made up the party’s foreign policy base for decades, and indicates that the Trump campaign has a particular interest in Ukraine, where Manafort had previously worked for a pro-Putin leader.

Manafort said on NBC’s Meet the Press this past weekend that the change in language on Ukraine “absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign.”

Trump Keeps Failing and It Doesn’t Matter

In the past 48 hours, everything went wrong for Donald Trump.

He lied and ranted more than usual, he insulted and offended, his friends used the press to criticize him, and his enemies in his own party said they were voting for Hillary Clinton, while anonymous reports ran rampant that his campaign was falling apart at the seams. Meanwhile, his poll numbers were going down.

But the rules and customs of American politics have not and do not apply to Trump; therefore, we cannot judge his presidential campaign within their context.

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Haslam's privatizing is backfiring

Is Outsourcing Really Saving Taxpayer Money?

An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered new questions about a major Haslam administration plan that was supposed to save taxpayers' money. But our investigation discovered that effort -- to turn the state's vehicle operations over to private companies -- is costing millions of dollars more than lawmakers were told.

"When we look at something like this and it turns out that the proposed budget and the actual is not even close, that's very concerning," said state Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon.

It was part of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's promise to run state government more like a business. While state employees once handled most maintenance of state vehicles, the Haslam administration outsourced the work to a private company. A fleet of state vehicles were once kept on standby for state workers, but that job was outsourced to Enterprise's WeCar program. The administration also sold off hundreds of state-owned trucks and cars, choosing instead to lease them -- all supposedly to save money.

But a careful analysis of state budget documents suggests the state's motor vehicle management operations have consistently blown through the budget numbers given to state lawmakers, now costing taxpayers more than ever.

"If you ran a business like this, you'd be bankrupt pretty quick," said former state Rep. Randy Stamps, who now heads the Tennessee State Employees Association.

Despite the fact that motor vehicle costs have gone up year after year, the Haslam administration continues to insist that outsourcing is saving money.

But state finance officials admit no one has done an independent analysis to see if the numbers really do add up.  - NewsChannel Five  

Do the right thing

YWCA campaign: Men, speak up to end violence against women

All men have a role to play in preventing violence against women, and it starts with things as simple as changing your language, a new video released Monday by victims advocates says.

“Every single man has the opportunity to rethink the way he operates in our culture,” said Patricia "Pat" Glaser Shea, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, which released the video.

“Most men are really amazing,” she said. “The majority of men are fabulous. They don’t even comprehend how they might innocently be supporting the behavior of bad men or a culture that supports bad men in how they do.”

“We Are The Lions” tackles that head on. The spoken-word video, produced in partnership with Go West Creative, features poet and actor Steve Connell. The YWCA, in soliciting pre-publication feedback, got some push-back about language used in the video.   - Tennessean (subscription)

Thought for the day:

"It is only a step from boredom to disillusionment, which leads naturally to self-pity, which in turn ends in chaos. "  - Manley Hall



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