Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 3, 2016


Is Trump Unraveling? 

Here's a summary of yesterday's extraordinary developments from Politico's "Playbook"

Good Wednesday morning.  John Bresnahan, Politico Capitol Hill bureau chief, summed things up pretty well last night.

--@BresPolitico: "The post-Democratic convention script couldn't have run any better for Clinton. Trump implodes, takes GOP with him, she marches on."

Trump has spent the last five days smacking around Republicans, feuding with the family of a dead soldier and "overextending," according to one Republican source, at every turn. (He threatened to kick a baby out of his rally yesterday!) Once again, Trump's public statements are being quickly refuted. Just yesterday, in declining to endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain, Trump said the speaker asked for the GOP nominee's endorsement. Ryan's camp immediately denied that -- on the record.

Meanwhile, top reporters
 -- CNN's Dana Bash, and CNBC/NYT's John Harwood -- are hearing some version of what we're hearing: that morale is plummeting inside the Trump campaign. @JohnJHarwood tweeted, "longtime ally of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager: 'Manafort not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal.'" @DianneG , a CNN national correspondent, tweeted, "A source tells @DanaBashCNN that some Trump campaign staff are frustrated w/ candidate lately, 'feel like they are wasting their time.'"  

DEFECTION WATCH -- JMART on A13 of the Times: "Meg Whitman, a Hewlett Packard executive and Republican fund-raiser, said Tuesday that she would support Hillary Clinton for president and give a 'substantial' contribution to her campaign in order to stop Donald J. Trump, whom she berated as a threat to American democracy ...  brings with her a considerable network of contributors, some of whom she said were open to giving to Mrs. Clinton. She said she was willing to campaign for Mrs. Clinton, said she would do her best to gather checks for her campaign and indicated she would personally give to both Mrs. Clinton and her affiliated 'super PACs.' 

Other GOP defections: Retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, former top Jeb Bush aide Sally Bradshaw, former Chris Christie spokesman Maria Comella.

THE BIG PICTURE from Alex Burns in the Times: The Khan controversy and playing footsy with opposing Paul Ryan and John McCain "threaten to shatter his uneasy alliance with the Republican Party at the outset of the general election campaign...Republicans now say Mr. Trump's obstinacy in addressing perhaps the gravest crisis of his campaign may trigger drastic defections within the party, and Republican lawmakers and strategists have begun to entertain abandoning him en masse."   - Politico Playbook  

Clinton has a new ad you have to see  

Clinton ad hits Trump on Outsorcing

Off embargo at 5 a.m. -- CLINTON hits TRUMP on outsourcing: The 30-second spot shows Trump talking to David Letterman about his shirts and ties -- which were made in Bangladesh and China.  Devastating - watch the smirk on Trump's face!   Dropbox Link  

A desperate, and truly dangerous delusion 

For Trump, a new 'rigged'system: The election itself 

Donald Trump, trailing narrowly in presidential polls, has issued a warning to worried Republican voters: The election will be “rigged” against him — and he could lose as a result.

“If the election is rigged, I would not be surprised,” he told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “The voter ID situation has turned out to be a very unfair development. We may have people vote 10 times.”

Like much of what Trump says, the “rigged” riff defies the recent norms of politics. In reality, voter fraud is rare. A 2014 study by Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, found just 31 possible instances of fraud over 14 years of elections with a total of 1 billion votes cast. The low Republican vote in some urban centers squares with the low support black voters gave GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012.

Still, the battle against “voter fraud” has made gains with Republican lawmakers and conservative journalists. Since the 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holderundid some requirements of the Voting Rights Act, restrictive new voter ID and registration laws have passed through Republican-run states.

Those laws have been challenged successfully in court, with North Carolina, North Dakota and Wisconsin losing cases in the days before Trump made his “rigged” comments.    - The Washington Post (subscription)

President weighs in 

Trump ‘unfit,’ Obama says, challenging GOP to end backing

In an extraordinary denunciation of Donald Trump’s temperament and competence, President Obama urged leaders of the Republican Party on Tuesday to withdraw their endorsements of Trump’s candidacy, flatly calling him “unfit to serve” as the nation’s 45th president.

“The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Obama said. “What does this say about your party that this is your standard-bearer?”

As the president made his comments, divisions in the GOP deepened. Trump’s unabashed and continuing hostility toward the Khans and his attacks on Republican leaders who have rebuked him for it threaten to shatter his uneasy alliance with the party.   The Boston Globe (subscription)


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Dems call for end to voter suppression laws

Democrats call for changes to Tennessee voter ID law

Seizing on recent federal court decisions that have struck down voter identification laws in several southern states, Tennessee Democrats on Tuesday called for their Republican counterparts to make changes to state and federal laws.

Citing decisions by federal judges in North Dakota, North Carolina and Texas, which have similar voter identification laws as Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, quoted Abraham Lincoln.

“He said that government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The people cannot express their wishes unless they vote,” Cooper said, explaining that, in the aftermath of a 2007 Supreme Court decision in Indiana, several state legislatures, including ones in the South, successfully passed laws to “not only ID voters but to suppress the vote.”

Despite the calls from Democrats, Republican, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, stood behind Tennessee's voter ID law.

Cooper pointed to circuit court decisions that have come from courts surrounding the 6th Circuit - which includes Tennessee - to suggest that the tide on voter ID laws is turning.  On Friday, a federal appeals court in North Carolina struck down that state’s ID law, saying it targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.”  - The Tennessean (subscription)

New 'Durham' policy, not enough? 

New legislative policy doesn't require posting founded sexual harassment complaints

Unless lawmakers widely release a report of sexual harassment by someone at the statehouse, something the policy does not require them to do, people will need to know the name of the transgressor and file a public records request to find out the extent of the harassment and if any punishment was deemed necessary.  The new legislative sexual harassment policy instituted in the wake of the scandal surrounding embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham doesn't require reports on future policy violations to be readily and broadly released to the public.  - The Tennessean (subscription)

Memphis politics is always entertaining

Todd arrested for stealing Lovell’s signs, but Lovell bails him out of jail

Politics can make for strange allies sometimes. Curry Todd and Mark Lovell proved that Tuesday.

Several hours after Todd, the District 95 state representative, was arrested on a warrant charging him with stealing Lovell's campaign signs, the incumbent was due to be released on bond late Tuesday.

And who posted that $100 bond? None other than Lovell himself. Along with Diane George and Dana Matheny, Lovell is one of three candidates opposing Todd in the East Shelby County race.

"Someone called me and said Curry Todd is still in jail and nobody's posted his bond yet. I thought, we don't need our state representative in jail. He can get out and the judge can decide what to do about it later," Lovell said Tuesday night.

When asked whether he though Todd would repay the cost of the bond, Lovell said: "I don't know. It's like lending money to your nephews. You don't expect to get it back. I figured it was a good deed."

Todd, who was first elected in 1998, acknowledged two days later that he was the man in the video, but said the property owner had given him permission to put his signs there and also to remove any of his opponents' signs. Multiple attempts to reach the property owner Tuesday were unsuccessful.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal  (subscription)

So . . . we're not the first to question Trump's mental state

Trump a ‘sociopath’, ‘pathologically impulsive and self-centered’: biographer

Donald Trump’s biographer has labelled the Republican presumptive candidate a “sociopath” and regrets writing the book that catapulted him to within reach of the White House.

Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote Trump’s 1987 memoir, the flattering bestsellerThe Art of the Deal, has told The New Yorker magazine that he now regrets his part in getting Trump this far and that if wrote the biography again, he’d title it The Sociopath.

From 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump, in his office, on his helicopter and even spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and on his Florida estate. But as Schwartz watched Trump’s inexorable climb to the Republican nomination, he grew increasingly nervous.

“Schwartz decided that if he kept mum and Trump was elected he’d never forgive himself,” the magazine wrote. Then last month he decided to break his silence and unburden himself by giving an interview about the real Donald Trump.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he told The New Yorker. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.”

He said the prospect of President Trump terrified him, not necessarily because of his ideology, but because he considered Trump to be “pathologically impulsive and self-centred”.   - New Daily, July 19, 2016


Thought for the day:

"I was in uniform for four years, and I know that heroism doesn't occur from taking orders, but rather from people who through their own willpower and strength are willing to sacrifice their lives for an idea."   - Thor Heyerdahl 



Your CPI Daily Buzz, August 2, 2016


Monday was a bad day for the Donald

15 Hours of Donald Trump’s Lies

From his attacks on the Kahn family to calling Hillary Clinton the devil and his claims of 'yuge' crowds, Monday was an incredible day of falsehoods for the GOP nominee

The lying started at 7:27 a.m. and did not stop until after dark. 

Even for Donald Trump, Monday, Aug. 1, was a banner day for bullshit.

With 100 days until Election Day, the Republican presidential nominee decisively rejected suggestions that he make some attempt to appear statesmanlike in his campaign against Hillary Clinton, opting to commit fully to the erraticism and dishonesty that characterized his performance in the Republican primary. 

Typed into the ether on Twitter, shouted at the people of Columbus, Ohio, at a town hall, or yodeled at a rally to the cable cameras and citizens of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the steady stream of nonsense could not be corked. He actually contradicted his own lies several times:

He does/does not know Vladimir Putin

Russia is/is not in Ukraine

Russia did/did not occupy Crimea

Khizr Kahn is/is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood

Mrs. Kahn was/was not silenced by Islam

He raised a lot of money for veterans (after months of relentless questioning by reporters)

Gonna build a wall and Mexico is gonna pay for it.

Cited an imaginary friend who calls Mexico "the eighth wonder of the world." (campaign could not confirm the identity)

Decried outsourcing - while ignoring the fact that he just filed a petition for 78 foreign worker visas for his resorts.

Said "we're not safe, " even though violent crime, murders, rapes robberies, assaults, are all down considerably since 2008

Said we don't know anything about Syrian refugees who come to America - even though the screening process can take years

Said "they  stole our passport machine."  This was a Syrian printing device, and the intelligence agencies aren't sure if was even taken.

Said "We're gonna have plans now that we can't even talk about. We have something coming and it's gonna be great!"

Of his rally he said "They sent away over 5,000 people outside." Which was not true.

Blamed Pennsylvania's manufacturing decline on Hillary Clinton.  As a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, it's hard to see how that could be true.

Berated other politicians for using teleprompters - he uses them too. 

Said Bernie Sanders made a deal with the devil.

She's the devil," he said of Clinton.

“I could name 50 companies that moved out of Pennsylvania and moved to Mexico and other places”  - the campaign could not name one. 
 - The Daily Beast

No respect

'Ours Is a Sacrifice You Will Never Know': Gold Star Family Members Demand Apology From Trump

Eleven Gold Star families penned a letter toDonald Trump demanding an apology for "repugnant" and "personally offensive" remarks he made about the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who was killed in Iraqduring combat in 2004. The letter was published by VoteVets Action Fund, the progressive advocacy wing of the political action committee for

"Your recent comments regarding the Khan family were repugnant and personally offensive to us," reads the joint letter published on "When you question a mother's pain by implying that her religion, not her grief, kept her from addressing an arena of people, you are attacking us."

"We feel we must speak out and demand you apologize to the Khans, to all Gold Star families and to all Americans for your offensive and, frankly, anti-American comments," the letter concluded.

The GOP candidate's latest remarks have caused widespread backlash as Democrats and Republicans alike have defended the Khan family.  

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Speaker of the HousePaul Ryan both issued statements strongly defending the Khans, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton bashed Trump for having "consistently insulted and demeaned individuals" in his campaign.  - Yahoo News   

Sad and craven

Donald Trump’s Tennessee backers don’t condemn his comments on Khans

Tennessee Republicans backing Donald Trump for president opted on Monday not to criticize the GOP presidential nominee for his comments about the Muslim-American parents of an Army captain who was killed in Iraq.

The GOP lawmakers called Capt. Humayun Khan, killed by a suicide bomber in 2004 as he tried to save other troops, "an American hero" but were careful not to condemn Trump for ramping up his feud with the slain soldier's parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

In speaking at the Democratic convention, Khizr Khan denounced Trump from the convention stage for smearing Muslims and wondered if the GOP presidential nominee has even read the Constitution. Trump fired back, suggesting Khan had "viciously" attacked him and that Khan's wife had not been "allowed" to speak because she is Muslim.

His comments drew wide condemnation from fellow Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, who said that while Trump may be the GOP party's nominee, he does not have "unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us."

Tennessee Republicans, however, offered praise for the fallen soldier without directly criticizing Trump.  Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)

The Oracle of Omaha

Warren Buffett Takes On Donald Trump at Hillary Clinton Rally in Nebraska

Billionaire issues tax-return challenge to GOP nominee.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett lambastedDonald Trump Monday and challenged the Republican nominee to release his tax returns as Democrat Hillary Clinton campaigned for a single, up-for-grabs electoral vote in Nebraska.

At a raucous rally, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive sarcastically mocked Mr. Trump, disputing the New York businessman’s claim that he can’t release his tax returns because of a continuing Internal Revenue Service audit. Mr. Buffett called the GOP nominee’s standoff with the family of a fallen soldier the “final straw” and asked Mr. Trump: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Mr. Buffett called on Mr. Trump to release his tax records and pledged to do the same, saying he would meet the New York businessman “any place, any time” so both men could field questions about their income-tax returns. Mr. Trump has cited the IRS audit as the reason for breaking with tradition and declining to make his taxes public, but Mr. Buffett said he, too, was under audit but that nothing precluded the release of their returns.

Probably not
Will GOP officials jump ship on Trump?

Whatever Trump’s personal weaknesses – and the list is very long – he is in the process of undermining the entire rationale for the Republican Party

The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of disastrous for the Republican Party.

No, Donald Trump’s position in the race hasn’t worsened dramatically, nor did the Democratic convention wash away Hillary Clinton’s many political warts. When it comes to the presidential race, we will see what the post-convention polls show.

[In first major poll post-convention, Trump loses bump]

Things have deteriorated for the GOP because Donald Trump’s comments about Russia and Vladimir Putin have further shredded the Republican Party’s historically greatest strength: national security and defense themes.

[How entangled with Russia is Trump?]

Add to that Trump’s — and GOP delegates’ — performance at their convention (“Lock her up!”) and Trump’s positions on trade, taxes, spending and entitlements, which also contradict the long-standing Republican message, and the party is nothing short of a mess.

For many lifelong Republicans and committed conservatives, as well as dozens of down-ballot Republican candidates, the redefinition of their party and the tone of the nominee are simply unacceptable. That’s clearly why Mitt Romney, the Bush family, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and others refuse to back Trump.  - Stu Rothenberg in The Washington Post (subscription)

Clinton surges

With Russia a campaign issue, Clinton gains on foreign affairs

Hillary Clinton's post-convention bump extends to enthusiasm about voting and trust on a slew of issues,according to a new CNN/ORC Poll. And on the most prominent foreign policy issue of late, Russia and its relationship with the US, nearly 6-in-10 see the country as unfriendly, and about half say they think the Russian government is attempting to influence the outcome of the US presidential election.

And just as foreign policy has come to the forefront of the campaign, Clinton has widened her edge over Trump as more trusted to handle foreign policy (59% Clinton to 36% Trump, up from a 5-point split following the GOP convention) and has pulled even with Trump on handling terrorism (48% each -- Trump was +11 after the GOP convention) and ISIS (48% Clinton to 47% Trump -- was a 13-point Trump lead after the GOP convention).

Russia continues to shadow Trump

Clinton also has an advantage now on most domestic issues, yet her edge on what has consistently held as voters' top issue -- the economy -- is too small to be statistically significant: 50% trust her, 48% Trump.

Clinton holds her widest lead over Trump on handling race relations, 61% trust her vs. 34% who trust Trump. She also has a double-digit edge on health care (+15), nominating justices to the Supreme Court (+14), immigration (+12) and trade with other countries (+10).   - CNN  

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Somebody finally says it out loud
There is something very wrong with Donald Trump

One wonders if Republican leaders have begun to realize that they may have hitched their fate and the fate of their party to a man with a disordered personality. We can leave it to the professionals to determine exactly what to call it. Suffice to say that Donald Trump’s response to the assorted speakers at the Democratic National Convention has not been rational.

Why denigrate the parents of a soldier who died serving his country in Iraq? And why keep it going for four days? Why assail the record of a decorated general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Why make fun of the stature of a popular former mayor of New York? You especially don’t pick fights that you can’t possibly win, such as against a grieving Gold Star mother or a general. It’s simply not in your interest to do so.

The fact that Trump did, as he said, want to “hit” everyone who spoke against him at the Democratic convention, suggests that there really is something wrong with the man. It is not just that he is incapable of empathy. If you are a Republican, the real problem, and the thing that ought to keep you up nights as we head into the final 100 days of this campaign, is that the man cannot control himself. He cannot hold back even when it is manifestly in his interest to do so. What’s more, his psychological pathologies are ultimately self-destructive.

Many of Trump’s supporters admire him for his bold challenge to political correctness. But his political incorrectness may be only an unintended side effect of his malady. Some of the insults he fires back at his critics are politically incorrect: the racist and misogynist taunts. But others are just childish: making fun of someone’s height, or suggesting that someone’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. The most important fact is that he is unable to control his responses to criticism. He must double down every time, even if it means digging himself deeper and deeper into the hole.

In all likelihood, his defects will destroy him before he reaches the White House. He will bring himself down, and he will bring the Republican Party and its leaders down with him. This would be a tragedy were it not that the party and its leaders, who chose him as their nominee and who now cover and shill for this troubled man, so richly deserve their fate.   
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

More than one, actually

Is Donald Trump just plain crazy?

During the primary season, as Donald Trump’s bizarre outbursts helped him crush the competition, I thought he was being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy.

I’m serious about that. Leave aside for the moment Trump’s policies, which in my opinion range from the unconstitutional to the un-American to the potentially catastrophic. At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that Trump’s grasp on reality appears to be tenuous at best.

Begin with the fact that he lies the way other people breathe. Telling a self-serving lie — no matter how transparent, no matter how easily disproved — seems to be a reflex for him. Look at the things he has said in just the past week.

On Wednesday, at a news conference in Florida, Trump said he has never met Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is,” he said.

Last November, he claimed that he “got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes.’ ” That made no sense; while the two men were featured the same evening on the CBS newsmagazine show, they were interviewed in different cities and would have had no interaction. But there’s more: In 2014, speaking at the National Press Club, Trump said, “I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.”

So was he lying last week, when he was trying to deflect criticism of his admiring words for the Russian strongman? Or was he lying two years ago, when he was trying to convince everyone what a big shot he was?

Also within the week, Trump lied in complaining about the presidential debate schedule and its conflicts with professional football. He told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, “I got a letter from the NFL saying, ‘This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against — ’ because the NFL doesn’t want to go against the debates.”

The National Football League responded: “We did not send a letter.”

Trump also lied about his interactions with the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. “I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch. Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!” Trump proclaimed Saturday on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Koch organization said no meeting with Trump was requested.

It is theoretically possible, I suppose, that Trump is telling the truth and everyone else is lying — although in the case of the Putin relationship, it’s Trump’s word against Trump’s. Or perhaps the lies about the NFL and the Koch brothers are little things. But he also lies about big things — claiming, for example, that he opposed the Iraq War and the Libya intervention all along, when the record shows that initially he supported both. No, Trump is clearly a liar.

Finally, there’s ample evidence that Trump is the worst kind of bully. Trump initially did not have the courage to respond directly to Khan. Instead he smarmily attacked Khan’s wife, Ghazala, who had stood silently on the stage. 

There’s no need for me to defend Ghazala Khan, who spoke eloquently for herself in a Post op-ed. But tell me: What kind of man has so little empathy for a grieving mother’s loss? Is that normal? Is it healthy?

The presidency comes with far-reaching powers. Not everyone should be allowed to wield them.  - Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post (subscription)

Voting his conscience

Three-Term GOP Rep.: I Will Vote Hillary

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) announced Tuesday that he will cross party lines in November to vote for Hillary Clinton for president because GOP nominee Donald Trump is “unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country.” 

The three-term outgoing congressmanwrote an op-ed for that reiterated his previous qualms with Clinton, but asserted that “I trust she can lead”—especially when compared with Trump’s “bumper sticker slogans that pander to our disappointment, fear, and hate.” 

Hanna had been considering a Clinton vote for several months, but told that watching Trump disparage the Muslim-American parents of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq was the final straw.  -

Thought for the day:

"On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."  - H.L. Mencken




Your CPI Daily Buzz - August 1, 2016

Leading the news:

Donald Trump's feud with the Khans - a Muslim-American family who lost a son in Iraq - is leading the New York TimesWashington Post and the Wall Street Journal, three months before the election. 

It's the top AP story, which means it's likely playing prominently in local papers across the country. Trump has, so far, been unable to dance around this one. 


Backlash grows over Donald Trump’s clash with Muslim soldier’s parents

Donald Trump reeled Sunday amid a sustained campaign of criticism by the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq and a rising outcry within his own party over his rough and racially charged dismissal of the couple.

The confrontation between the parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, and Trump has emerged as an unexpected and potentially pivotal flash point in the general election. Trump has plainly struggled to respond to the reproach of a military family who lost a son, and he has repeatedly answered the Khan family’s criticism with harsh and defensive rhetoric.

And Trump’s usual political tool kit has appeared to fail him. He earned no reprieve with his complaints that Khizr Khan had been unfair to him; on Sunday morning, he claimed on Twitter that Khizr Khan had “viciously attacked” him. Trump and his advisers tried repeatedly to change the subject to Islamic terrorism, to no avail.

Instead, Trump appeared to be caught in perhaps the biggest crisis of his campaign, rivaling the uproar in June after he attacked a federal judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, over his “Mexican heritage.” By going after a military family and trafficking in ethnic stereotypes, Trump once again breached multiple norms of American politics, redoubling pressure on his fellow Republicans to choose between defending his remarks or rebuking their nominee.

Trump also risked reopening controversies related to religious tolerance and military service: His treatment of the Khans has already brought on a new wave of criticism of his proposal to ban Muslim immigration, as well as of his mockery of Senator John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

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Chasing the American Dream
Undocumented Chattanooga student wins almost $300,000 in college scholarships

But he may be deported

University of ChicagoHis parents had been educated professionals in Mexico. But Mexico was so battered by drug and gang violence, they knew their son might never have a safe life or a secure future. Criminal gangs had become so vicious, they kidnapped children of impoverished street vendors for $100 ransoms.

David's parents made an epic gamble. Chattanooga friends could help them find factory jobs that paid $10 hourly. So they packed water and supplies and trudged across 200 miles of desert, dodging outlaws and border cops. David was just 5. They carried him when he was too tired to take another step. His parents walked across the border and into new lives in the United States of America.

Now, 13 years later, David graduated from a local high school with a 4.0 GPA and is enrolled in the prestigious University of Chicago to be a human rights lawyer. He wants to fight discrimination against poor people of all races, women, the disabled, elderly and LGBT.

This spring, he won $290,872 in scholarships to the university, whose alumni include astronomers Edwin Hubble and Carl Sagan, Supreme Court Justice John Stevens and film critic Roger Ebert. David's friends are promoting a GoFundMe page with a $2,500 goal for miscellaneous items like his first pair of winter boots.

David can stay in America and apply for certain college scholarships due to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a 2012 policy enacted by President Barack Obama. DACA status requires the applicant be in school or have earned a diploma, GED or a military honorable discharge. A person must have "good moral character" to qualify for DACA, meaning he or she has no felony conviction, has never been convicted of three misdemeanors or DUI.

David met all the requirements. But GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to revoke DACA, and other politicians are pushing for deportation of illegal immigrants. If that happens, David's dream might be denied.  - Chattanooga Times Free Press (subscription)

The Donald's Daily Lie

Trump Boasted In 2014 Of Receiving Gift From Putin And Meeting His Advisers

On Sunday, Donald Trump denied that he had any relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with ABC News. 

Trump added his previous talk of him having a relationship with Putin was just the two saying nice things about each other. “I don’t know what it means by having a relationship,” Trump added. “I mean, he was saying very good things about me. But I don’t have a relationship with him.”

In 2014, during a speech at CPAC Trump, though, boasted about meeting with Putin’s advisers — even receiving a gift and personal note from Putin during the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

“You know, I was in Moscow a couple months ago, I own the Miss Universe pageant and they treated me so great,” Trump said then. “Putin even sent me a present, beautiful present, with a beautiful note, I spoke to all of his people. You look at what he’s doing with President Obama he’s like toying with him. He’s toying with him.”

In 2013, Trump told MSNBC he had a relationship with Putin. Mother Jones posted video last week of Trump saying he talked “indirectly and directly” with Putin in a 2014 press conference.   - Buzzfeed   

Billy Moore Reports from Washington

Former Alabama Governor George Wallace's complaint that "there ain't a dime's worth of difference" between Republicans and Democrats is untrue today. The parties represent opposite views of the present and visions for the future. The Republican view is American weakness in the face of severe economic and security threats that demand Republican nominee Donald Trump's leadership. The Democratic view is an America growing stronger economically and militarily, but that can accomplish more with a team led by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Last week's Democratic convention stumbled as Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned hours before she was scheduled to gavel the convention into session, exposed by hackers of bias against Bernie Sanders. Republican nominee Donald Trump moved the Democrat's disarray off the front pages by inviting Russian hackers to find and release Clinton's deleted emails. By Thursday night's acceptance speech, Clinton had mostly unified her party, probably boosting her into a lead in the national polls.

Contrasting Trump's vision of a nation in crisis that only he can fix, Democrats stole former President Ronald Reagan's message of optimism based in American exceptionalism. Besides the Wasserman-Schultz resignation, only a few dozen disruptive Bernie Sanders delegates unhappy with their candidate's loss marred the nearly flawless stagecraft in Philadelphia.  

The general election is 98 days away. The next big event – and opportunity to reshape the national polls - is the presidential debate set for September 26, if it occurs. Trump complained Friday the debate schedule is unacceptable because it conflicts with a professional football game, perhaps laying the foundation for not participating.

Congress returns September 6 for a 17-day September session with only one must-pass bill on the agenda: a Continuing Resolution to prevent a government shutdown October 1. Today, Republicans face an uphill fight to maintain their four-vote Senate majority while their 30-vote House majority looks likely to be halved.

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

 Thought for the day:

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."  - H. L. Mencken



Your Democratic Convention Buzz, July 29, 2016

Stronger together
Clinton offers an optimistic vision for the future

Hillary Clinton sought to transcend doubts about her character by presenting an uplifting vision for the nation’s future, delivering the biggest speech of her enduring public life here Thursday as she formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination.

Declaring that the United States is at “a moment of reckoning,” Clinton promised that “progress is possible” and offered herself as a fearless executive who would get the job done. She also warned against what she considers the dangers represented by Republican nominee Donald Trump, who she said would usher in “midnight in America.”

In an address that electrified delegates and put a personal exclamation point on the four-day Democratic National Convention, Clinton yoked the history of Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, with her own historic candidacy to become the country’s first female president.

“Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” she said. “Bonds of trust and respect are fraying. And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we all will work together so we all can rise together.”

Clinton’s 57-minute address was a coda to a convention week in which Democrats offered a meticulously choreographed answer to Trumpism and its apocalyptic view of the nation. They espoused service and diversity, inclusion and acceptance, and spoke of how the nation is “stronger together” — the newly energized anthem of the Clinton campaign.   - The Washington Post (subscription)  

Ten Steps
The father of Muslim soldier killed in action just delivered a brutal repudiation of Donald Trump

Donald Trump was speaking at an event in Iowa, complaining that America was not allowed to waterboard terrorists, when Khizr Khan and his wife walked up to the microphone at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Khan's son, Humayun, was a captain in the U.S. Army. When a vehicle packed with explosives approached his compound in Iraq in 2004, he instructed his men to seek cover as he ran toward it. The car exploded, killing Khan instantly. He was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously.

"We are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan," the elder Khan said at the Democratic convention, "and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country." He spoke of his son's dreams of becoming a military lawyer and how Hillary Clinton had referred to his son as "the best of America."

Then he focused his attention on Trump.

"If it was up to Donald Trump, [Humayun] never would have been in America," Khan said. "Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

"Donald Trump," he said, "you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy." He pulled a copy of the Constitution from his pocket. "In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law.' " Earlier this month, Trump promised congressional Republicans that he would defend "Article XII" of the Constitution, which doesn't exist.

"Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?" Khan said. "Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

"You have sacrificed nothing. And no one."   - Washington Post (subscription)  See the very moving video HERE. 

Tennessee on the podium

Memphis Rep. Akbari at DNC: Clinton a ‘bad sister,’ will fight for young people

Rep. Raumesh Akbari, a 32-year-old Democratic lawmaker from Memphis, called for members of her generation to join her and vote for Hillary Clinton, arguing that the “bad sister” will fight on behalf of young people as president.

In a three-minute speech delivered Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, Akbari said there’s a simple decision to make when considering voting for Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“My fellow young people — we have a choice, and it’s crystal clear! What side of history do we want to be on? Which political leader will we allow to define our generation?” she asked.

Akbari, who is the only Tennessean speaking on stage at the convention and the first since 2008, suggested that Clinton would help fight for debt-free college for everyone, free community college and work to advance new “strategies” to combat the problems unique to those in her generation.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal  (subscription)  

Tennessee voices

Now that Clinton's the nominee, Tennesseans look to the fight ahead

Here's a look at what Tennesseans from across the state — who joined the throngs of those inside the Wells Fargo Center celebrating her nomination — believe is the most important thing Clinton needs to do between now and November in order to be elected as the 45th president of the United States.

State Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis:

"In terms of the general what she has to do is continue to do her ground campaign, continue, I think to pound the message. I think also it's real important that she reach out to Bernie Sanders' young people — the energetic folk — bring those people into the fold and allow them to participate. Don't take Donald Trump for granted even though he started off as a joke.

State Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis:

"I think it's pretty simple. She needs to let the world know who she is. Quit letting Trump and his henchmen define her. Quit letting the lies go unchallenged. 

Chattanooga resident and Bernie Sanders delegate Laurie Dworak, who was among the crowd wearing a neon green t-shirt in a show of support for Vermont senator:

"Stay on message. Stay saner than Trump, which is the easiest thing in the world to do and get some more of the information out that they shared in her biographical video tonight. There has been a lot of negative propaganda that has been around regarding Hillary for years.

Sanders delegate Sidney Bennett of Hermitage:

"As a Bernie delegate I would say continue to emphasize the importance of the folks who were Bernie supporters as to how they can fit into the program. How they will be appreciated and how they can add to her work."

State Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville:

"I think she started tonight by pointing out that all the great achievements of America don't just happen. They happen because responsible leaders bring the people together and move them forward in a moral way. She said tonight that to be great we have to be good. And I think that's really meaningful because by all accounts Hillary Clinton is a hard-working and dedicated public servant. 

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville:

"I think that just building all those different coalitions, all that groups that we saw in there today: old, young, men, women. Every group is important and we should reach out out to them. And we can't put all the responsibility on her. If we don't want Mr. Trump to win, who thinks that he can solve all the problems by himself like a ruler, as President Obama reminded us, then we have got to get out there and help her, and I'm prepared to start on Day 1."

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville:

"I think she needs to keep doing what she did tonight. Voters heard a very different vision of America than what they heard from Donald Trump last week. A country where we're all in it together, where the economy works for everybody, where we love our neighbor, even if they're not from our neighborhood, where our best days are still ahead of us. She appealed to what's best in all of us at our core and I think if she keeps doing that between now and Election Day she's unquestionably going to be the next president of the United States."

Rob McGuire, Nashville attorney and Clinton delegate:

"I think she started doing it tonight, and it's not just about Donald Trump. It's about her own positive vision of what she's going to do to help Americans. 

Lisa Quigley, chief of staff, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper:

"I think she needs to continue to motivate people to come out and support the vision of America that she has and continue to make the argument that we have to reject the vision that Donald Trump has for the nation."

Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Mary Mancini:

"The one thing is running towards the voters and doing what she's about to do, which is get on the road and start stumping and campaigning and telling her message — basically, the same thing that she said last night. She just needs to get back to everybody in the country, or as many people as possible."   - Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)

The Russians are still at it

FBI investigates hacking of Democratic congressional group -sources

The FBI is investigating a cyber intrusion at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that may be related to an earlier hack at the Democratic National Committee, said four sources familiar with the matter on Thursday.

The previously unreported incident at the DCCC, which raises money for Democrats running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, may have been intended to gather information about donors, rather than to steal money, the sources said.

The breach and its potential ties to Russian hackers are likely to sharpen concern, so far unproven, that Moscow is attempting to meddle in U.S. elections. The issue has clouded this week's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The DCCC intrusion could have begun as recently as June, two of the sources told Reuters.

While private cyber experts and the government were aware of the DNC hack months ago, embarrassing emails were leaked last weekend by the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group just as the party prepared to anoint Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate for the Nov. 8 election.

The revelation of the DCCC breach is likely to further stoke concerns among Democratic Party operatives, many of whom have acknowledged they fear further dumps of hacked files that could harm their candidates. WikiLeaks has said it has more material related to the U.S. election that it intends to release.

Cyber security experts and current U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified, have said there is strong evidence that Russia was responsible for the DNC breach.    - Reuters    

Trump's commisar

Trump and the Oligarch

Trump claims no ties to Russia.  But here's how he made millions from one of its wealthiest men.

The nature of Trump's connection to Russia has exploded recently as a campaign issue, thanks to his friendly comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin; the ties that several of his advisers have to Moscow; his contrarian views on NATO and Ukraine, which happen to echo Putin's; and his startling call on Wednesday for Moscow to find and release Hillary Clinton's deleted private emails. 

But the connection isn't just political. Trump has repeatedly explored business ventures in Russia, partnered with Russians on projects elsewhere, and benefited from Russian largesse in his business ventures.  - Politico   

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Tall tale?

Diane Black blasts Joe Carr, others over claims attack exaggerated

The campaign of Rep. Diane Black's Republican primary opponent is accusing the representative of embellishing the circumstances of a more than 20-year-old attack she's featured in campaign advertisements.

Black's camp has blasted the attempts by the Joe Carr campaign and others to determine whether the representative's recounting of an incident in which she was attacked is accurate, the latest moves in the GOP primary race to represent Tennessee's 6th Congressional District. In a phone interview Thursday, Carr said Black started the feud by calling out his campaign and by, in his words, unnecessarily embellishing the account of her attack "for no other reason than to curry votes in an election year."

"It’s just sad, it’s unfortunate, she didn’t need to do it," Carr said.  - Tennessean (subscription)


Thought for the day: 

"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."  - Hillary Clinton





July 28, 2016 Making History in Philly

Star-power in Philly 

Democrats skewer Trump

Democrats launched a sustained and withering attack Wednesday on Donald Trump, deploying the party’s highest-caliber stars in prime time to land their fiercest blows yet on the Republican presidential nominee.

“His lack of empathy and compassion can be summed up in that phrase he is most proud of making famous, ‘you're fired,’” roared Vice President Joe Biden. “He is trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break. That is a bunch of malarkey.”

The third night of Democrats’ national convention in Philadelphia featured a strategic takedown of Trump’s candidacy. Speakers like former CIA director Leon Panetta and retired Admiral John Hutson painted Trump as too volatile and erratic to hold the nuclear codes.

Former Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg derided Trump as a “dangerous demagogue.” Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley called Trump an “immigrant-bashing carnival barker” and a “bully racist.” They picked apart and ppilloried Trump’s business record and his slam of Sen. John McCain for getting captured during his military service in Vietnam. And they ripped Trump for his newest controversy: urging earlier Wednesday that Russia recover and release Hillary Clinton’s private emails.

Even President Barack Obama, whose speech was largely a rosy recollection of his presidency and a boost to Clinton, mentioned Trump at least six times.

"He’s not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either," Obama said. "He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated."

And in a more oblique but cutting swipe, Obama appeared to lump Trump together with America’s enemies. “Anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end,” he said.

Obama at the end of the night made the most forceful case for Clinton of the convention’s first three days.

“That is the Hillary I know, that’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire, and that’s why I can say with confidence, there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America,” he thundered.

“I hope you don’t mind, Bill," he said as the grinning former president looked on, “but I was just telling the truth, man.”

But it was [former NY Mayor, Michael] Bloomberg, who seemed to crystallize the unusual — and unusually harsh — argument that Democrats and their allies have been making against Trump.

“Together,” he said, “let’s elect a sane, competent person.”   - Politico   

Listen to Bernie  

Sanders to Tennessee delegates: Trump 'most dangerous candidate' in modern history

PHILADELPHIA — Bernie Sanders visited a joint gathering of four Democratic delegations including Tennessee’s on Thursday morning, touting the progressive campaign he ran and seeking to unite his base of supporters behind the party’s nominee Hillary Clinton to defeat Donald Trump.

In a 20-minute speech, the Vermont senator thanked his loyalists from all four states, discussed the feats of his presidential campaign “despite taking on virtually the entire establishment” and recited top items of his progressive platform.

He also called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a “demagogue” who must never be elected president.

“It seems to me that we have a couple of missions in front of us, as we look at politics a little differently than many others,” Sander said. “Issue No. 1 over the next few months, it is absolutely imperative that we work as hard as we come to make sure Donald Trump is defeated and Hillary Clinton is elected.”

“And the reason that have to work so hard is that Donald Trump is the most dangerous candidate to run for president in the modern history of this country," Sanders added.   - The Tennessean (subscription)

Stronger Together

Tennessee Democrats praise Obama's unifying message

PHILADELPHIA — Tennessee Democrats raved over what could be one of President Barack Obama's final major speeches in office, one that gave a boost to the candidacy of his one-time rival Hillary Clinton and unleashed a sharp critique on her Republican opponent Donald Trump.

The 44th president used the beginning of his speech to defend his legacy before touting the experiences of Clinton, calling her a lifelong fighter and someone uniquely equipped for the White House.

“As many times as he does it, he always seems to capture the moment perfectly and says the words that are in my soul," said Rob McGuire, an attorney from Nashville and Clinton delegate. "That’s what is so amazing and how lucky I feel to have witnessed that history tonight and over the last eight years.” 

He said the speech offered much more optimism than the message from the Republican convention, which he called "a very top-down message."

"It was America is broken and I can fix it. And I think the president made a perfect rebuttal to that tonight, which is America isn’t broken – we have work to do and we are going to do it together.”

State Rep. Harold Love Jr., D-Nashville, called Obama's remarks a “wonderful goodbye given by the president, but also the handing of the baton to Hillary Clinton. Love said his favorite line of the speech was a call to vote following the eruption of boos from the crowd after Obama mentioned Trump.

“Don’t boo,” Obama said. “Vote.”

Freda Player, political director of the Service Employees International Union Local 205 and Clinton delegate, said it was "the unity speech" that Democrats needed. "It put into perspective what’s going in the nation, what we’ve accomplished in the nation during his tenure, but also that we need to move forward and get back to our moral values," Player said. We’re stronger — What our moral values are as a country.Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the speech “was from the heart” and it relayed the things he did over the past eight years and transitioned to the party’s new candidate, Clinton.

“He brought in no uncertain terms what he thought a Trump presidency would be like. I thought it was well-written and of course well-given by an outstanding man.”

Ashford Hughes, an aide in Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's office and Clinton delegate, said "it was an exciting speech – he talked about what we have done." "I thought it was a hopeful speech – talking about where we are as America – that we’re not this disastrous, one day from the apocalypse country. That we are moving in a progressive manner."

Hughes said Clinton’s presence really energized the audience in advance of her officially accepting the party’s nomination Thursday.

Leonard Stevenson of the Wilson County Democratic Party, and a Tennessee delegate, said the speech is  “right up there” with his best and that it "did the job." “I think he was just trying to bring everyone together to let them know that all this stuff Donald Trump is talking about is not correct,” he said.  It’s a lot of rhetoric and lies and stuff, a smear campaign and character assignation on Hillary Clinton.      - Tennessean (subscription)  

Morning in America
Democrats claim patriotism, God and American exceptionalism at convention

PHILADELPHIA—Democrats are now playing offense on the three G’s that dogged them for so many years: God, gays and guns.

Republicans mercilessly accused Barack Obama of not believing in the notion of American exceptionalism over the years. Some have said he is a closeted Muslim presiding over America’s decline. His opponents have talked relentlessly about “values” and suggested that he somehow lacks them. They’ve used every opportunity to emphasize his otherness, to diminish his Americanism in ways big and small.

Donald Trump has allowed the outgoing president and his party to flip the script. It is the Republican nominee who now talks about malaise, decline and the limitations of U.S. power. His profoundly dark acceptance speech in Cleveland gave an opening for Democrats to present themselves as the hopeful, sunnily optimistic and patriotic party that supports the troops and believes the country’s best days are ahead.

-- In some ways, Obama’s speech echoed Reagan’s farewell address in January 1989. (Trump did not quote Reagan in his RNC speech—which was inspired instead by Richard Nixon.)

-- The president spoke with the confidence of someone who feels certain that he’s on the right side of history. He placed Trump in a tradition of “home-grown demagogues” who have preyed on the citizenry’s fears since the dawn of the Republic. “The American Dream,” he said, “is something no wall will ever contain.”

-- There was irony in Obama painting Trump as fundamentally un-American, after the billionaire spent years insisting that the Hawaii native was actually from Kenya and demanding to see his long-form birth certificate.    - Daily 202, The Washington Pos(subscription)

Serial hypocrite

Trump Seeks 78 Visas for Foreign Workers

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump seeks temporary visas for foreign workers for 78 positions—including servers, cooks, and housekeepers—at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter. 

Trump has pledged to restore American jobs, and he repeated that goal last week during the Republican National Convention, when he said, “I’m going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York and Michigan and all of America.” Still, instead of seeking Americans to work those jobs, he is seeking out foreign workers for the positions. 

The applications filed this month claim there aren't enough Americans available to do the work. But officials at a career services agency in the area say that Trump’s claims are untrue. One such official told BuzzFeed that he had “hundreds of people in our database that would qualify for a lot of those hospitality jobs” and a database with the names of 1,327 Palm Beach County residents looking for such positions.  - The Daily Beast   

State Rep. Martin Daniel to be booked on assault charge after election

State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) won't be booked on a misdemeanor assault charge until after the Aug. 4 general election in connection with an on-air shoving match involving challenger Steve Hall during a radio forum.

Daniel was issued a citation to appear for booking Aug. 10, according to court records.

Hall, Daniel and two other candidates for the Republican nomination for West Knox County's 18th District House seat — James Corcoran and Bryan Dodson — were facing off in a July 21 forum hosted by Hallerin Hilton Hill on WOKI-FM when Hall and Daniel began to argue. The debate escalated to name-calling when Daniel took off his headphones and stood over Hall to "intimidate him" after Hall called Daniel a "liar," according to the police report.

Hall said Daniel then "took both hands, flat-handed, and shoved him in the chest area, roughly assaulting him," according to the report. A producer then separated the two candidates.   - Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)


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High School sports
After TSSAA vote, it's decision-making time for some private schools

The blueprint is established. The enrollment margins are determined. Now the waiting game begins.

The clock for Division I private schools to move to Division II entered its final stage on Wednesday after the TSSAA Board of Control voted at the state office to expand Division II football from two to three classifications starting in 2017-18.

The move, meant to level the future playing field for Tennessee's private schools, was a pre-emptive strike for what the state organization expects to be a sizable transition of schools into Division II. The state's 24 Division I privates, including Catholic, Grace Christian, Christian Academy of Knoxville, Berean Christian, Concord Christian and First Baptist Academy, have until Oct. 14 to make a decision.

The clarity comes after Division I independent schools were forced into a crossroads last September, when the TSSAA Legislative Council voted to redefine Division II to include any school offering a "financial assistance program," including tuition breaks to family members of athletes and work-study programs.

"We surveyed (the 24 Division I private schools) and said 'OK, these are the things that you can continue to do as far as financial assistance to families, but if you do those things, you have to go Division II,' " TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said. "Eighteen of the 24 schools said they were doing those things. That's why we did what we did."

Transportation is expected to be a talking point as schools contemplate making the switch, with the majority of current Division II programs located near Nashville and Memphis.  "It's a concern, but I think we're in a position where all of the small schools like us will have to go to Division II," Berean Christian athletic director Chris Lindsay said. "The three divisions is incredible. I think that's an incredibly smart and fair move."  - Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)

Hot Race again

DesJarlais, Starrett GOP primary battle turns into firestorm

It's another election year and another scorched-earth campaign in Tennessee's 4th Congressional District Republican primary between U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and challenger Grant Starrett.

This year's contest pits DesJarlais, 52, a South Pittsburg physician who barely survived his 2014 Republican primary amid revelations from hismessy 2001 divorce, against Starrett, a wealthy 28-year-old attorney and conservative activist who moved last year to Murfreesboro, the largely rural district's largest city.

The sprawling 16-county district includes part of Bradley County and all of Meigs, Rhea, Marion, Grundy and Bledsoe counties but excludes Hamilton County, which is in the 3rd Congressional District.

Starrett is a California native who moved to Tennessee in 2009 to attend Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville and who has worked for arch-conservative U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. He's run to the right of DesJarlais, lambasting the three-term incumbent on votes dealing with military spending and food stamps and accusing the incumbent of enabling Muslim terrorists on a 2015 spending bill vote.

And he's launched a blitz of media and direct mail ads charging DesJarlais has been "silent" on abortion and refuses to define when life begins. "You've been betrayed by Scott DesJarlais," is the slogan in many of his attacks.

However, Kent Syler, an assistant professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, thinks DesJarlais may have built up enough support in his district to survive the onslaught.

"Starrett's running a spirited campaign," Syler said. But DesJarlais has "in six years had six races and beaten cancer," he added.

"You know, until someone can prove different, you got to bet on him. Starrett is running a campaign to get to the right of DesJarlais, and I just don't know that there's any room there." -  Chattanooga Times Free Press  (subscription)

Thought for the day:

President Obama referenced Teddy Roosevelt in describing Hillary Clinton. Here's the quote.




Bill can still bring it!

As Hillary Clinton makes history, Bill reflects on their journey

PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party on Tuesday, a historic moment marked by an emotional speech from Bill Clinton, who told an intimate story of how they fell in love and built a remarkable political partnership.

The night was about Hillary Clinton, and the former president chronicled his wife’s accomplishments from working to end housing discrimination to launching a children’s advocacy group in Arkansas to negotiating peace deals as secretary of state.

“She’s a good organizer, and she’s is best darn change-maker I’ve ever met in my life,” Bill Clinton said. “Some people say ‘Well, we need change. She’s been around a long time.’ She sure has, and she’s been worth every single year she’s put into making people’s lives better.”

Clinton started his speech with a simple narrative description — “I met a girl’’ — and described their courtship at Yale Law School in 1971. He said he asked her to walk to an art museum.

‘‘We’ve been walking and talking and laughing together ever since,’’ he said.   - Boston Globe (subscription)  

Feel the Bern, one more time

Sanders puts Clinton over the top 

After a day and a half of discord and resistance by Bernie Sanders backers, the Democratic National Convention finally became what its organizers intended: the Hillary Clinton show.

Clinton formally earned the party’s presidential nomination Tuesday, the final boost coming from Sanders himself. The Vermont senator laid down his arms once and for all, symbolically closing the convention’s nomination vote with an enthusiastic endorsement of Clinton’s election.

Earlier in the day, the greatest intrigue surrounded Sanders’ loyalists inside the arena. Though he pleaded with them for two days to restrain any frustration and support Clinton’s nomination, it was unclear whether they would attempt to disrupt the proceedings. But the presidential roll call went off with little audible protest, and Sanders – taking one last opportunity to bask in the warmth of his supporters in the arena – delivered the final nudge that pushed Clinton over the top.

“I move that all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,” the Vermont senator declared in his signature gruff voice. The convention approved his motion and Clinton was officially the Democratic Party nominee.

For Sanders, it was the capstone to a campaign that saw him surge from obscurity to a genuine threat to Clinton’s nomination. He soaked in the moment as states began casting their votes, earning wild cheers each time delegates delivered ballots for him. His brother, Larry, representing a delegation of “Democrats abroad,” delivered a teary-eyed homage to Sanders, one final symbolic nod to the senator’s campaign.   - Politico  

Not all kumbayah and cookies

Tennessee Clinton delegate booted from convention after skirmish with Sanders supporter

A Tennessee delegate has had his credential and duties rescinded and no longer has a seat at the Democratic National Convention after an altercation on Monday with a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Jerry Ogle, a Clinton delegate from Monroe County, was removed from Tennessee's delegation Tuesday morning after it was determined that he violated the party's code of conduct agreement when he had an inappropriate interaction with Amanda Kruel, a Sanders delegate.

After the interaction, Kruel said she reported it to Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Mary Mancini, who confirmed Ogle's removal from the delegation.  - The Tennessean (subscription)   


Even if ousted, Jeremy Durham eligible for lifetime health benefits

Legislative leaders are weighing the option of ousting embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham from the state legislature, in part to stop him from receiving a state pension.

But regardless of whether he's ousted, resigns or is re-elected, Durham is eligible to remain enrolled in the state's health insurance plan for the rest of his life, said Connie Ridley, director of legislative administration. Durham's wife, and any other immediate family, would be eligible to remain on the plan as long as they live, according to state law.

"All members of the general assembly who are elected to serve a full term of office as a member of the general assembly are eligible to continue their health insurance by paying the appropriate premium amount," Ridley said in an email to The Tennessean.

If he serves out the remainder of his term, he'll be eligible for about $4,130 in pension funds annually, Ridley and Shelli King, a spokeswoman with the Tennessee Department of Treasury, previously told The Tennessean.

 From Russia (to Donald) With Love
After DNC leaks, Obama hints at possible motive for Russia to help Trump

President Obama on Tuesday waded into the controversy over the leak of Democratic National Committee emails, saying the hack of party records was characteristic of Russian government behavior and suggesting a potential motive for that country to meddle in the U.S. presidential election.

“What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems, not just government systems but private systems,” Obama told NBC. “What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that — I can’t say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladi­mir Putin.”

Trump has praised Putin in the past as a “strong leader.” He told the New York Times last week that he would not necessarily defend certain NATO allies from potential Russian aggression. Trump also has sought for years to extend his real estate empire into Moscow. He has not succeeded at that, but his son, Donald Trump Jr., once said that Russians “make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”

The FBI, which has been investigating the DNC hacks for months, formally announced this week that it was investigating the matter.

Law enforcement and intelligence officials have been focusing their inquiry on the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, and whether it was responsible for the leak to WikiLeaks. The GRU is one of two Russian intelligence organizations believed to be linked to one of the two hacks, according to CrowdStrike, a cyber firm that investigated the attack at the request of the DNC. Another Russian spy agency, FSB, or an affiliate had penetrated the DNC computers last summer.

Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called the hack an “issue of concern.”

“I found it interesting that a candidate for president of the United States would be praising Mr. Putin who is, I think most people know, has moved Russia into a more authoritarian state,” Sanders said. “. . . And that you would have a candidate for president of the United States talking about what a good job Mr. Putin is doing? No. It should raise some concerns among the American people.”   - The Washington Post (subscription)  

What's fair for the goose . . .

A Trump-style speculation on the GOP and Putin

Donald Trump never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — until now.

He has dabbled in, among other things, the notion that President Obama is a Muslim born inKenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s fatherwas involved in the JFK assassination.

But on one topic, Trump is conspicuously incurious: the suggestion that he is complicit in a plan by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S. election. Consider how Trump might react to the following fact pattern if the candidate involved weren’t “Donald Trump” but — let’s pick a name at random here — “Hillary Clinton”:

The candidate’s real estate empire, unable to borrow from most U.S. banksgets capital from Russian sources. Such transfers couldn’t occur without Putin’s blessing.

The candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has worked extensively for pro-Putin oligarchs.

One of the candidate’s foreign policy advisers, Michael Flynn, was filmed sitting with Putin at a Moscow banquet celebrating a Russian propaganda network.

Another adviser, Carter Page, has close ties to Gazprom, the Russian energy company under Putin’s thumb.

One of the only interferences the campaign made in the Republican platform was to remove language calling for “providing lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists.

The candidate cast doubt on the utility of NATO and said he might not come to the aid of Baltic members of the alliance attacked by Russia.

Putin has aimed to destabilize rival powers by supporting extremist parties in several European countries. His state news outlets have been heavily supportive of the candidate.

The Russian ambassador to the United States attended a campaign speech by the candidate, and Putin described the candidate as “talented.” The candidate said he was honored.

Russian intelligence hacked the Democratic National Committee and, experts say, handed the emails to WikiLeaks for release on the eve of the Democratic convention. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared: “I think that they ought to be prepared for more excitement in the email world this week.”

How would he know?

If the Clinton campaign, and not the Trump campaign, were so extensively interwoven with Putin’s Russia, it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin — just as he demanded Obama release his birth certificate.

He would also very likely float allegations masquerading as questions by using the phrases “a lot of people have said” or “I’m hearing,” or “there’s something we don’t know about.” But Trump, I’m hearing, won’t be doing that in this case. So let’s help him. The following are all phrases Trump has used to float conspiracy theories — but this time applied to his Putin ties — combined with wild Trump-style speculation.

A lot of people have said Putin is trying to get Trump elected so he can blackmail the American president. Somebody told me Trump would completely go out of business if Putin took back all the Russian money he let Trump have. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I just heard Trump’s airplane would be grounded immediately.

Manafort helping the oligarchs? Flynn having dinner with Putin? Page getting money from Gazprom? No coincidence! Now it’s coming out that Putin wants to destabilize America. There’s something fishy about the whole thing.

And why did Trump propose changing NATO and Ukraine policy in ways that would benefit Putin? Obviously some people think it’s evil intentions. I think it’s incompetence. Regardless, a lot of people think it’s evil intentions.

I don’t bring up the possibility that Trump has already been bribed or blackmailed by Putin because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely bribery and blackmail. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.

I’m hearing it’s a big topic, the question of whether Trump is guilty of treason. I’m not sure. I mean, let people make their own determination. Trump never denied that Putin was his patron.

He cannot give us his tax returns. He didn’t pay his taxes, or, if he did, there’s something in those returns that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me — and I have no idea whether this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that he owes billions to Putin. Somebody said, ‘Maybe that’s the reason he doesn’t want to show his returns.’ I don’t think so. I just don’t think he paid his taxes.

Why is Trump so emphatic about not talking about his Putin connections? He gets it better than anybody understands. There’s something going on. There’s something we don’t know about. I don’t know. All I know is what’s on the Internet. Wow!   -- Dana Milbank in The Washington Post    

Editor's note - We reprinted this article in its entirely because we think these questions will be asked soon, and voters deserve the answers.

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In America, teachers give us much more than we pay for

Teacher cognitive ability around the world

A teacher conducts a German lesson for children of a welcome class for immigrants

If you think the skills of American teachers don’t stack up to those of teachers in other countries, you’re wrong—American teachers are perfectly mediocre. Well, in fairness, American teachers seem to be a touch above average in literacy skills and noticeably below average in numeracy. They shine in neither area. “Mediocre” means middling. 

I guess some country has to be in the middle, but that’s not how we Americans like to picture ourselves. For me, American teachers being middle-of-the-pack isn’t good enough. I expect—at least if you’re an American reader of Chalkboard—that you too want the U.S. to be a world leader in education.

If this reads like a knock against American teachers, that’s not quite the intention. It is intended as a knock against American policymakers. We in fact get much better teachers than we pay for.

Position of teacher cognitive skills in the skill distribution of college graduates
"The estimates…indicate that teachers are paid some 20 percent less than a comparable college graduate elsewhere in the U.S. economy after adjusting for observable characteristics."

American teacher pay is lower than would be expected given the skills teachers have. Or put the other way around, American teachers have better skills than one would expect given their pay.   - The Brookings Institution   

Hinckley gets out

Would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr. to be freed after 35 years

John W. Hinckley Jr. will be released from a government psychiatric hospital more than 35 years after he attempted to assassinate president Ronald Reagan and shot three others outside the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Hinckley, 61, no longer poses a danger to himself or others and will be freed to live full-time with his mother in Williamsburg, Va., effective as soon as Aug. 5 subject to dozens of temporary treatment and monitoring conditions, U.S. District Judge Paul L Friedman of Washington wrote.

If Hinckley adheres to all restrictions, they could begin to be phased out after 12 to 18 months, removing him from court control for the first time since he was confined to St. Elizabeth’s hospital after the shooting, according to the order.   - The Washington Post (subscription)

 The Donald's Eternal Lie

Donald Trump’s Big Lie About the Law That ‘Threatens’ Christians

The self-identified Presbyterian calls those who embrace the best known teachings of Jesus, "smucks."

Fact checking Donald Trump has become a small industry this election cycle. How Trump deceives people of faith with falsehoods deserves especially close scrutiny.

In his speech accepting the Republican nomination, Trump promised to repeal “an amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, [that] threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.”

No such law exists.

In full, Trump claimed that “our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans. I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity—and other religions—is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly…”

Again, no such law exists. The law Johnson sponsored says something quite different.

Trump has been getting these facts wrong since February—one of many examples of him repeating falsehoods to win votes from evangelicals whose leaders evidently have not fact checked Trump.

Not incidentally, while Trump claims to be a Christian and made a show of attending Presbyterian services recently, he is not a member, according to the Presbyterian Church USA. Thus he cannot be disciplined by the church for his statements that it has advised in a letter to him contradict Christian theology.

Pastors who inquire will find an extensive body of evidence from Trump’s words and deeds showing that he aggressively opposes Christ’s message. Those clergy who foolishly embrace Trump as a fellow believer will one day face judgement, called upon to explain their role in deceiving their flocks.   - The Daily Beast    

Editor's note.  You can read the Presbyterian Church's rebuke of Donald Trump HERE.

Thought for the day:

"Cromwell is just as much of a bloody dictator as was Stalin."  - Vladimir Putin


Your CPI Daily Buzz, July 26, 2016

Bright stars, high voltage on night one 
High-wattage stars on Democrats’ first night help smooth over some party chaos

For the final hour of the day, Obama, Sanders and Warren reminded Democrats of their common interests and their common goal of defeating Trump, rather than dwelling on the long and divisive nominating battle that exposed fault lines between the establishment and the grass roots.

Monday’s opening day had included the unceremonious removal of Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the convention program; an unprecedented apology from the new leadership of the DNC to Sanders and his supporters after leaked emails revealed an institution that had clearly strayed from its pledge of neutrality in the nomination battle; and cascades of boos by Sanders’s delegates and supporters when they were urged to get behind Clinton in her campaign against Trump.

All that was the prelude to the prime-time program. Collectively, Obama, Sanders, Warren and the night’s other main speaker, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), projected the kind of high voltage a political party needs when it is in danger of losing its focus. It was more wattage than the Republicans were able to put on their stage in the early days of the Cleveland convention, even accounting for the performances of Trump’s children and his wife.  The Washington Post  (subscription)

Michelle killed it in Philly

Michelle Obama is the Democrats’ best weapon against Donald Trump

Michelle Obama never said Donald Trump’s name during her speech at the convention last night, yet she offered a more effective rebuttal of the Republican nominee and the mantra that animates his campaign than any other Democrat has been able to thus far in 2016.

One week after Melania Trump plagiarized her speech from the Denver convention eight summers ago, the First Lady stole the show at the Wells Fargo Center by poignantly delving into the sensitive subjects of race and gender.

Reflecting on raising two daughters under the glare that comes with living in the White House, Mrs. Obama explained: "We challenge them to ignore those who challenge their father's citizenship or faith. We insist that the hateful language from public figures on television does not represent the true nature of this country. We explain when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to that level. No. Our motto is: When they go low, we go high."

It was a speech for the ages, overshadowing both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – who followed her in the 10 p.m. hour.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” the First Lady said. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”

The 52-year-old’s voice cracked with genuine emotion as she reached a crescendo:"Don't ever let anybody tell you our country isn't great, that somehow we need to make it great again. This country is the greatest country on Earth!" The hall erupted.

-- She didn’t need to dignify Trump by naming him. No one had any doubt exactly who she was talking about with these five soundbites:

  • "The issues we face are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters."
  • "When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips, and the military in your command, you can't make snap decisions, you can't have thin skin and a tendency to lash out."
  • "I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life's work shows our children that we don't chase fame and fortune for ourselves."
  • "I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters. A president who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago, that we are all created equal."
  • "And when crisis hits, we don't turn against each other. No, we listen to each other.”

-- It also highlights a Democratic strength that the GOP lacked last week in Cleveland: a star big enough to change the narrative of intra-party discord. At the end of a day that showed how angry and recalcitrant some Sanders supporters remain, the First Lady’s speech went a long way toward wiping away the storyline of bitterness and disenchantment. “Collectively, Obama, Sanders, Warren and the night’s other main speaker, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), projected the kind of high voltage a political party needs when it is in danger of losing its focus,” Dan Balz writes in his column.  -  The Washington Post  (subscription)

"You're being ridiculous."  - Sarah Silverman

Bernie Sanders’s Revolution Goes Down Screaming at Democratic Convention

Moments after the convention was gaveled into session, Hillary Keyes, a Bernie Sanders delegate, broke down crying.

“I’ve never been more inspired by someone in my entire life,” Keyes said as tears welled behind her glasses. She’d been asked about Sanders’s endorsement of Clinton.

“He speaks from the heart. He’s the real deal. He hits me right in my heart. And as he said, ‘When you hurt, I hurt.’”

The first day of the Democratic National Convention went off with all the grace of a car accident—thanks in large part to emotive Bernie Sanders supporters who couldn’t make peace with the fact that their guy lost. But as the night wore on, there were fewer boos and louder cheers. With it, the signs diversified from “I’m With Her” to “Michelle” to Sanders’s famous “A Future to Believe In.”

When the Vermont senator addressed a jam-packed house late on Monday night, many of his backers openly wept—aware their loyalty had, finally, outlasted his campaign.

Statistics show that the vast majority of Bernie voters plan to back Clinton in November. In particular, Pew Research has found that 90 percent of Democratic primary voters who consistently backed Sanders say they will back Clinton.   - The Daily Beast  

Prison Care

Inmates with hepatitis C sue Tennessee prison officials for treatment

Tennessee inmates infected with hepatitis C filed a federal lawsuit against state prison officials late Monday, asking the court to force the state to start treating all inmates who have the potentially deadly disease.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocates in U.S. District Court in Nashville, says the Tennessee Department of Correction officials knowingly denying inmates care for their hepatitis C, also known as HCV, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. It alleges the department is denying care because the best available medication is too expensive.

"In reality, (department officials) ignore the medical needs of (inmates) and class members in order to save costs. (The department's) written policies for HCV diagnosis, assessment and treatment utilize outdated standards of care and normalize the practice of refusing treatment for unjust and medically unsound reasons," the lawsuit states.  - The Tennessean (subscription)  

Closing in

Casada pushes for Armstrong to join Durham ouster

As House leaders collect signatures required to call a special legislative session to expel Rep. Jeremy Durham, the former mentor to the embattled Franklin Republican continues to push for the ouster of a Democrat from the legislature.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, is now circulating his own petition for a special session that includes the names of both Durham and Rep. Joe Armstrong. Armstrong, D-Knoxville, is under federal indictment on fraud and tax evasion charges.

"Just as Rep. Durham lied to me and betrayed the trust of this Caucus with his actions, it is plain to see that Rep. Armstrong has also betrayed our trust as a legislative body and used his public office for personal gain," Casada said in an email Monday to all members of the House GOP caucus.  - The Tennessean (subscription)

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‘DNC Hacker’ Unmasked: He Really Works for Russia, Researchers Say

The hacker who claimed to compromise the DNC swore he was Romanian. But new research shows he worked directly for the Vladimir Putin government in Moscow.

The hacker who claimed to compromise the DNC swore he was Romanian. But new research shows he worked directly for the Vladimir Putin government in Moscow. The hacker who claims to have stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and provided them to WikiLeaks is actually an agent of the Russian government and part of an orchestrated attempt to influence U.S. media coverage surrounding the presidential election, a security research group concluded on Tuesday.

That finding matches the political motive that U.S. officials told The Daily Beast they have seen in Russia’s hacking of the DNC. The FBI said on Monday that it was investigating the breach, which a growing number within the Obama administration believe was designed to embarrass Democrats, exacerbate tensions between Hillary Clinton and her former rival Bernie Sanders—as well as his voters—and ultimately to give a boost to Republican nominee Donald Trump.  - The Daily Beast

"Insidious wiles"
What George Washington Knew About Vladimir Putin’s Political Hack

The idea that a foreign power might try to impact an American election sounds like a chapter ripped from a dystopian novel. It’s not. Serious questions emerged this week—in the aftermath of WikiLeaks publishing DNC emails that appear to have been stolen by Russian hackers trying to help Donald Trump—about whether Vladimir Putin is tampering with our domestic politics.

The Founding Fathers saw this coming. 

It’s why President Washington and his speechwriter Alexander Hamilton devoted much of our first president’s Farewell Address to warning “against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Here’s the story: Two hundred and twenty years ago, the sweltering streets of Philadelphia were buzzing with rumors that a foreign power was trying to destabilize the American government and determine the outcome of the next election.

This was not without reason. The English were abusing Washington’s policy of neutrality between Britain and France and they fully expected that the lost colonies would return to their rule. The new revolutionary government in France saw Washington’s neutrality as treason to the larger cause of international liberty and they dispatched an agent named Citizen Genet to destabilize the government through popular uprising. As historian Harlow Giles Unger explains, “If Washington’s government refused to cooperate, [Genet] was to exploit the Jeffersonian pro-French ferment in America to foment revolution, topple the American government, and convert the United States into a French puppet state. Once under French control, the United States would become part of a French-dominated American federation of Canada, Florida, Louisiana, and the French West Indies.” Jefferson’s partisans were seen as useful idiots in this effort. 

So “history and experience” were anything but casually invoked in Washington’s parting words to his country.

This lesson was reinforced during Washington’s presidency, when Poland ratified the first written constitution in Europe, attempting to press past the polarization and paralysis of its parliamentary monarchy. But squeezed between Russia and Prussia, Poland found its sovereignty systematically undermined by senate candidates who secretly served those neighboring states. With a weakened military, a series of forced partitions reduced Poland to a skeletal state. 

So Russia’s got experience in this kind of thing, even before Stalin and his admirer Putin.

Putin has shown a willingness to meddle in foreign elections to pursue his interests—chief among them is a destabilization of international alliances that check his own expansionist ambitions. The idea that Russia is seeking to influence America’s presidential election and propel a more admiring and compliant candidate into the White House may sound far-fetched on the surface, but a passing glance of history shows this play has been invoked to destabilize democracy for centuries.

Putin is well aware of this history. And we can’t say that George Washington didn’t warn us.  - John Avlon in The Daily Beast    

Music to Putin's ears

Trump on NATO: ‘We Have to Walk’

At a Monday night rally, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump remained firm on his controversial NATO comments last week, saying the U.S. should give the member nations an ultimatum. “I want them to pay,” he told the crowd. “They don’t pay us what they should be paying! We lose on everything. Folks, we lose on everything.” He added, “We have to walk. Within two days they’re calling back! ‘Get back over here, we’ll pay you whatever the hell you want.’” Trump said Hillary Clinton wasn’t the right person for secretary of State and that she’s responsible for poor negotiations. “They will pay us if the right person asks,” he said. “That’s the way it works, folks. That’s the way it works.”

 The same night, Trump said he prefers not to say “Muslim” when singling out groups to block from immigrating to the U.S. On Fox News, The Donald said he’s “talking about territories.” He added, “People don’t want me to say Muslim. I prefer not saying it frankly, myself. So we’re talking about territories.” Trump said that anyone advocating for taking in refugees is “stupid.” He added, “I don’t know. Our leaders, people that do this, they’re stupid people.”  - The Daily Beast    

The Donald's Daily Lie

A popular conspiracy theory is spreading in the Trump family. It’s totally false.

The unemployment rate is not a conspiracy. It is not manipulated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And anyone who suggests otherwise is either uninformed, or trying to misinform others. 

Which is to say that you shouldn't listen to Donald Trump & Co. For a year now, the alleged billionaire has insisted that the "real" unemployment rate is something like 42 percent instead of the 4.9 percent it actually is. He hasn't said how he's gotten this — maybe it's from the same "extremely credible source" who told him President Obama's birth certificate was fake? — but the simplest explanation is that he's just ballparking how many adults don't work. That's 40.4 percent right now. The problem with using that number, though, is that it counts college students and stay-at-home parents and retirees as being equally "unemployed" as people who are actively looking for work but can't find any. So it doesn't tell us too much, at least not on its own, unless you think it's a problem that we have more 70-year-olds than we used to. 

Or unless conspiracy theories are one of your favorite accessories, as seems to be the case withthe father, and now the son, Donald Trump Jr. On Sunday, he told CNN's Jake Tapper that the official unemployment numbers are "artificial" ones that are "massaged to make the existing economy look good" and "this administration look good." How do they supposedly do this? By, he claimed, defining "the way we actually measure unemployment" to be that "after x number of months, if someone can't find a job, congratulations, they're miraculously off" the jobless rolls. 

The only problem with this theory is it's false. The BLS hasn't changed the way it measures unemployment during the Obama years, and there is zero evidence it has changed the numbers themselves. Not only that, but Donald Trump Jr. doesn't even seem to know how unemployment is defined in the first place. As the BLS explains, everyone who doesn't have a job but is trying to find one counts as "unemployed." It doesn't matter how long you've been looking as long as you are, in fact, still looking.   Wonkblog, The Washington Post (subscription)

Billy Moore Reports from Washington

Following three days of disorganized division, Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination with a theme of a nation in crisis and a law and order agenda reminiscent of Richard Nixon's 1968 acceptance speech. Trump expects a bump in the national polls, perhaps putting him in the lead next week.

While crime is hardly a top issue in recent polls, it pulls together threads of Trumps agenda: immigration, terrorism, racial conflict – not to mention the Republican Convention's lone unifying theme that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is "crooked" and should be in prison or worse. 

Trump's crisis cultivation is essential to his argument that voters should risk electing a neophyte because he alone can fix the problem. In a press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, President Barack Obama refuted Trump's description of chaos as not reflecting the experience of most Americans.

Trump is a conventional Republican nominee on taxes and regulation. He is a contrarian on trade, big business and global interventionism. He may have created an opportunity for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by presenting only broad strokes on issues, such as increasing economic growth and unconditional victory over terror, without explanation of how.

Detailed issue papers will not elect Trump in November. If he wins it likely be because Clinton missed her opportunity to convince voters that she shares their concerns for the future and will address them with new policies and different results.

Her next step is this week's Democratic National Convention, where she and her surrogates will build out the vision of America stronger together, including speeches by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

On Friday, Mrs. Clinton named Virginia Senator Tim Kaine to be her running mate, a selection that could reopen differences with Bernie Sanders supporters who consider Kaine insufficiently liberal on finance and defense issues.

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

Thought for the day:

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."  - Benjamin Franklin



Your CPI Daily Buzz, July 25, 2016

Your Buzz staff was so dismayed by the Republican Convention and it's picture of America as a dystopian hellscape that we decided to spare you reports from Cleveland. 

However, CNN's Fareed Zakaria has an elightening commentary about Trumps assault on the truth and common sense that we have seen. This aired yesterday on CNN, and is reprinted here in it's entirety.  

Happy Monday.


America must not succumb to anger, hatred, division

Donald Trump set a record on Thursday for the longest speech delivered by the nominee at a convention in decades. If one were able to go back and measure the decibel levels from the past, I'm sure he would win that prize as well. The speech was screamed more than spoken, but the medium matched the message. Trump painted a picture of America that was darker and more dystopian than any candidate in modern memory.

There have been parallels drawn to Richard Nixon's speech at the 1968 Republican convention. But that was positively sunny by comparison. Can you imagine Donald Trump saying, as Nixon did, "We shall work toward the goal of an open world, open skies, open cities, open hearts, open minds." Or, "Let us increase the wealth of America so that we can provide more generously for the aged and for the needy and for all those who cannot help themselves."
And of course, 1968 was a time of genuine international and national crisis. The Soviet Union and America were locked in a nuclear arms race, producing ever more dangerous weapons. Proxy wars between the two superpowers' clients were ongoing around the world. The United States had half a million troops in Vietnam, with more than 300 dying every week on average, in a war that was going badly. Just two months apart in 1968, two of the country's most respected leaders, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, the latter's death producing race riots in more than 100 American cities. Crime was rising dramatically.
The reality of America today is, to put it mildly, very different. The United States has emerged from the great recession of 2009 better than any of the world's major economies. It has produced more than 14 million jobs since 2010, more than the 35 other advanced economies combined, as Politifact has noted. For example, auto sales when Barack Obama took office were 9.6 million on an annualized basis. Last month, they reached 16.6 million. Over the last eight years, America has become the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas, overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia. Unemployment is now below 5%.

Let me try to present the broader trends to you in a series of graphs produced by Harvard's Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack, published in Slate. If you are terrified by the massive rise in terrorism, here is the chart, detailing mass killings and genocide, which includes all Islamic terror. Since 1945, as you can see, it is a stunning decline -- with a small uptick, which is almost entirely countries like Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.
We have data on civilians killed since 1988, and here is what that chart looks like:

Here are some other charts worth looking at, on the decline in homicides in America and the world:

On the victimization of children, a huge drop:
On the decline of rape in America:
And one more chart, this time from Pew. The net migration from Mexico to America since the great recession has been zero. Yes, zero:
I know that, fed on a diet of hype, hysteria and relentless attacks, people don't feel this way. But it's time to point out that this doesn't make it true. Facts are facts.

There is no golden age to go back to. What America do we want to return to? The 1950s, when marginal tax rates were 91% and in many states women couldn't easily become doctors and lawyers and African-Americans couldn't sit at the same lunch counters as whites? The 1960s, when the country was consumed by war and crises? The 1970s, when stagflation robbed the ordinary American of income and opportunity?

America IS great, a country of openness, diversity, tolerance and innovation. Of course it has problems, as do all countries. Of course it can be greater still, but not if it succumbs to anger, hatred, division and despair.  -    

Just in case you need more proof for your crazy uncle

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 RNC

The dark portrait of America that Donald J. Trump sketched in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention is a compendium of doomsday stats that fall apart upon close scrutiny. Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong.

When facts are inconveniently positive — such as rising incomes and an unemployment rate under 5 percent — Trump simply declines to mention them. He describes an exceedingly violent nation, flooded with murders, when in reality, the violent-crime rate has been cut in half since the crack cocaine epidemic hit its peak in 1991.

In his speech, Trump promised to present “the plain facts that have been edited out of your nightly news and your morning newspaper.” But he relies on statistics that are ripe for manipulation, citing misleading numbers on the economy, for example, through selective use of years, data and sources.

Click here for the ugly rundown of 25 lies from Trump's ridiculous accdeptance speech.  - Fact Checker - Washington Post   

Ok without Debbie

Wasserman Schultz resignation won’t hinder Democratic convention, Tennessee delegates say

As Tennessee's Democratic delegates began gathering on Sunday to kick off the beginning of the party's national convention, some of those in attendance pushed back against the notion that party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation might cast a shadow of the convention.

"I think it's going to be a blip on the radar by the end of the week," House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said of the revelations that emails from party staffers showed their support for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. In light of the emails, many prominent Democrats, including Sanders called for Wasserman Schultz to resign.

Fitzhugh, who is not serving as a delegate but decided to attend the convention anyways, said his party's candidate is nothing like Republican nominee Donald Trump, and the parties' two conventions would be very different.

"You will see this convention show a positive attitude and some of the things that are going right and not just dwell and dwell and dwell on the problems that we may have," he said, while praising Wasserman Schultz for her time as party chairwoman.  - Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)  

Not his environment anymore

Al Gore to skip Democratic National Convention

Al Gore will not be attending this week’s Democratic National Committee Convention in Philadelphia despite being a Tennessee superdelegate, a spokeswoman for the former vice president said Sunday.

Gore is one of eight Tennessee superdelegates this year, but he’s the only one who is not committed to a candidate.  POLITICO has previously reported that Gore plans to wait until Democrats officially nominate a presidential candidate before he endorses someone.

Betsy McManus, director of communications for Gore, in an email said Gore is unable to attend the convention this week due to “obligations in Tennessee.” She did not specify what they are.

Gore, who has become less active on the national political scene as he’s turned his attention to environmental causes, did not attend the 2012 DNC convention either after speaking at both the 2008 and 2004 conventions in which Barack Obama and John Kerry were nominated as Democratic candidates for president, respectively.

Gore, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee and native of Carthage, Tenn., maintains a home and office in Nashville.  - The Tennessean (subscription) 

"I'm with her."

#ClintonNation: This is why Americans are voting for Hillary Clinton

Many supporters of the candidate who’ll be America’s first female presidential nominee don’t care that she’s a woman any more than they care that her opponent’s a man.

They’re with her because they find Hillary Clinton so qualified and Donald Trump so … terrifying.

"I’m excited — I want Hillary to get elected. But kind of scared, too,’’ says Jennifer Gibbens, 36, a Springfield, Mo., social worker. She’s afraid Trump would “take us back to the Dark Ages."

Half of Clinton supporters view their choice more as a vote against Trump than one fortheir candidate, according to Pew. That’s a higher “against’’ share for a Democratic candidate’s supporters than in any of the last four elections. In 2008, just a quarter of Obama voters said they were voting more against John McCain than for Obama.

So even though they’ll be voting to make history, many Clinton voters will do so holding their noses. “I'm not saying, "Woo-hoo, Hillary!" said Denise Jones, 51, a West Manchester Township, Pa., waitress. "It's just she's the lesser of the evil choices."  - Tennessean  (subscription)  

Vladimir Hearts Donald

As Democrats Gather, a Russian Subplot Raises Intrigue

An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election? Until Friday, that charge, with its eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aid Donald J. Trump, has been only whispered.  

But the release on Friday of some 20,000 stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, many of them embarrassing to Democratic leaders, has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.

Proving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult. But researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year.

On Sunday morning, the issue erupted, as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, argued on ABC’s “This Week” that the emails were leaked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump” citing “experts” but offering no other evidence. Mr. Mook also suggested that the Russians might have good reason to support Mr. Trump: The Republican nominee indicated in an interview with The New York Times last week that he might not back NATO nations if they came under attack from Russia — unless he was first convinced that the countries had made sufficient contributions to the Atlantic alliance.

It was a remarkable moment: Even at the height of the Cold War, it was hard to find a presidential campaign willing to charge that its rival was essentially secretly doing the bidding of a key American adversary. But the accusation is emerging as a theme of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, as part of an attempt to portray Mr. Trump not only as an isolationist, but also as one who would go soft on confronting Russia as it threatens nations that have shown too much independence from Moscow or, in the case of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, joined NATO.

Mr. Trump has also said he would like to “get along with Russia” if he is elected, and complimented Mr. Putin, saying he is more of a leader than President Obama. Mr. Putin has in turn praised Mr. Trump. But Trump campaign officials on Sunday strongly rejected any connections between their candidate and efforts to undermine the Democrats.  The New York Times (subscription) 

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Hot race in the 4th

DesJarlais, Starrett GOP primary battle turns into firestorm

It's another election year and another scorched-earth campaign in Tennessee's 4th Congressional District Republican primary between U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and challenger Grant Starrett.

This year's contest pits DesJarlais, 52, a South Pittsburg physician who barely survived his 2014 Republican primary amid revelations from hismessy 2001 divorce, against Starrett, a wealthy 28-year-old attorney and conservative activist who moved last year to Murfreesboro, the largely rural district's largest city.

The sprawling 16-county district includes part of Bradley County and all of Meigs, Rhea, Marion, Grundy and Bledsoe counties but excludes Hamilton County, which is in the 3rd Congressional District.

Starrett is a California native who moved to Tennessee in 2009 to attend Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville and who has worked for arch-conservative U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

He's run to the right of DesJarlais, lambasting the three-term incumbent on votes dealing with military spending and food stamps and accusing the incumbent of enabling Muslim terrorists on a 2015 spending bill vote.  -Chattanooga Times Free Press (subscription)  

Funnyman gets serious 

Al Franken tells Tennessee Democrats they have work to do

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., told Tennessee Democrats Monday that “we really have a fight on our hands” to get Hillary Clinton elected against Donald Trump as he called on troops to work this election season — at all costs. 

"A lot of you have jobs. A lot of you have families. Ignore them,” Franken said, prompting laughs at a Tennessee Democratic delegation breakfast Monday morning at the Democratic National Convention. “When we get back, work every day, OK?”

Franken, a former comedian, was the first Democrat to address Tennessee’s Democratic delegation, which arrived in Philadelphia on Sunday. At Monday’s breakfast, Franken was introduced by Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter and a former Tennessee gubernatorial candidate in 2010.  - Memphis Commercial Appeal  (subscription)  

At the Olympics, cheaters do prosper

Spineless IOC Surrenders Olympic Integrity to Russia Forever

The International Olympic Committee just cast a devastating shadow over its own showpiece event that will linger long after the world’s athletes return home from Rio.

Faced with a clear-cut case of institutionalized, systematic cheating, the IOC was too pathetic to enforce its Olympic charter. Sports’ most cherished guiding principles were first written out by hand in 1898. This weekend, we might as well toss them away.

By allowing the Russian flag to be paraded around the Maracanã stadium in downtown Rio in 12 days’ time, spineless Olympic bosses are publicly acknowledging what we all feared: the Olympic Games are dirty; drug cheats will prosper; and the IOC is no fit custodian of the greatest event on earth.  - The Daily Beast   

Thought for the day:

"I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."  - Will Rogers



Your CPI Daily Buzz, July 18, 2016

Must See!

k to the future: 2016 president obama calls 2008 david plouffe

This is just too funny.  Do yourself a favor and click on the picture or the headline above - ENJOY! 

Eyes wide shut

Report shows many knew of Durham's misdeeds for years

Once allegations of rampant misconduct by Jeremy Durham were documented by a 48-page report released on Wednesday, lawmakers roundly condemned the Franklin representative, using language such as “repulsive” to express their outrage. His legislative mentor said Durham lied to him, and the state’s lieutenant governor said he’d like to “smack him in the mouth.

Yet what is clear is that Durham’s behavior was widely known among lawmakers, staffers and legislative staffers for years. They knew how he behaved.

They knew because they saw it. Or they were told. 

And no one did anything to stop it.

The women knew. Some didn’t tell anyone. Some told their families. Some told their friends and coworkers. In some cases, they told their bosses, including lobbyists and lawmakers. Several told some of the highest-ranking officials in the state. All of the women were afraid of filing a formal complaint. And nothing of consequence happened to Durham, until three women talked with The Tennessean and a story detailing inappropriate conduct was published.   - The Tennessean  (subscription)  

Historic tidbit

Tennessee’s road to statehood could pave way for D.C.

If the District of Columbia becomes the 51st state, Tennessee will have helped pave the way.

Just don't expect Tennesseans in Congress to lend much of a hand.

Statehood has been a decades-long goal for many leaders of the nation's capital for reasons succinctly summarized in the motto on the city's license plates. "Taxation Without Representation," it complains.

The district's more than 670,000 residents pay federal taxes but have no real representation in the federal government. Their sole voice in Congress is Eleanor Holmes Norton, a delegate who serves in the House but isn't permitted to vote on the floor. What's more, Congress has the power to review all bills by the D.C. city council and can prevent them from taking effect.

Now, D.C. leaders are making another push for statehood. And they're looking to take the same route that Tennessee followed when it became the 16th state in 1796. In November, D.C. residents will vote on a statehood referendum that would split the city in two. One part would be a new state called New Columbia. The other part would remain a small federal district that would house government buildings and monuments.

If the referendum is approved, D.C. would petition Congress for statehood. That's where Tennessee comes into play.

Because Tennessee was already a federal territory in the 1790s, Congress allowed it an abbreviated entry into the union. Tennessee residents voted to ratify a constitution and pledged to begin a republic form of government. Congress then admitted the new state into the union without requiring a ratification vote by existing states.

If "the Tennessee model" worked for Tennessee, the thinking goes, it might work for D.C.   - Memphis Commercial Appeal

Opening night in Cleveland  

The Daily 202: Seven things to watch at the Republican convention in Cleveland

Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012 upended the first nights of the Republican National Convention. In 2016, a man-made tempest is making landfall here on the shores of Lake Erie: Hurricane Donald.

In what might be interpreted as a metaphor, a bad storm swept through town overnight – briefly knocking out power at some hotels.

The coming days will undoubtedly be awkward. Exactly one year ago today, Donald Trump declared in Iowa that John McCain was not a war hero because he got captured by the North Vietnamese. As recently as last week, Trump reiterated his refusal to apologize for saying that and even attacked the 2008 GOP nominee for not doing enough to help veterans. (Ironically, Trump being at the top of the ticket has imperiled the Arizona senator’s reelection hopes.)

Real all seven here:  -- The Washington Post    

He should know  

Trump’s Ghostwriter: "He’s a Sociopath"

The ghostwriter who penned Donald Trump’s The Art of the Dealsaid in an interview with The New Yorker that he feels deep remorse for contributing to “presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” Author Tony Schwartz now says that if he wrote the same book today, he’d call it The Sociopath. “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization,” Schwartz said. “Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest.” Schwartz noted that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.”  READ IT AT THE NEW YORKER

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Past as prologue

The Last Time Trump Wrecked a Party

Donald Trump says he’s never run for president before, but like much of what he says, that’s not quite true.

In 2000, he actively sought the Reform Party nomination, winning primaries in Michigan and California in the third party founded byTexas billionaire Ross Perot to fight NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act), and promote a balanced budget.

Few people remember the Reform Party and its effort to build a third party around political and economic reform. Voter anger at trade policies and a mounting deficit propelled Perot to briefly top the polls in June 1992, ahead of both incumbent President George H.W. Bush and challenger Bill Clinton.

Anger at trade policies that didn’t deliver the promised jobs had left a lot of Americans hurting, and Trump saw an opportunity for his brand of braggadocio to break through. His rhetoric then was free of the anti-immigrant, exclusionary sentiments that make some Republicans queasy today. He was a political novice then, and he didn’t build a campaign that could go the distance. His candidacy eventually cleared the way for Pat Buchanan, who got the Reform Party nomination only to drive it into the ground.

The voter anger that erupted in ’92 and that led to the Reform Party came from outside the two major political parties, and the issues fueling that anger were successfully co-opted by Bill Clinton, who balanced the budget, by Newt Gingrich with his Contract for America, and by John McCain with campaign finance reform.

The anger this year erupted within the parties, and Trump was savvy enough to see the opening and ride it to the nomination.  That’s what he does as a businessman, identify new markets, and push his brand. The bill has come due for a generation cast aside by trade policies that Trump the business mogul benefitted from and that now he wants voters to believe he can fix. The revolution that Perot set in motion in ’92 is back. Everything old is new again.  The Daily Beast  

Like we didn't know it already

Russian doping: Report claims state-sponsored doping during Winter Olympics

(CNN)With under three weeks to go until Rio 2016 Olympics, an independent report says Russia operated a state-sponsored doping program while it hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, Canadian law professor Richard McLaren's report concluded Russia's "Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete's analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories."

The FSB is Russia's federal security service while the CSP is involved in the training of Russian athletes.
"The investigation has established the findings set out in the report beyond a reasonable doubt," McLaren told a press conference in Toronto, Canada Monday.

"The evidence we have uncovered is all verifiable and can be cross-corroborated by multiple sources. I am unwaveringly confident in our report," he added.
The Kremlin and Russian Sports Ministry are yet to respond to CNN's request for comment.

The investigation came off the back of claims made by former Russian anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov last year to the New York Times that he was ordered to cover up the drug use of at least 15 Sochi 2014 medal winners.
The Russian track and field team has already been barred by from competing in the 2016 Games by the IAAF, although a number of athletes have filed petitions to participate under the Olympic flag.  -  CNN   

Billy Moore Reports from Washington

Congress adjourned a lack-luster first seven months of session on Thursday, taking a two-month recess to campaign for reelection. They leave Washington without having a budget, any appropriations cleared for the White House and having enacted on 75 laws, including 18 bills that rename federal facilities. During a comparable period two years ago, Congress enacted 90 laws. 

Left undone is the emergency Zika virus appropriation, the 12 regular appropriations, criminal justice reform, mental health reform, the nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, an energy bill, a defense authorization, and a water resources bill that would assist Flint, Michigan address lead in its drinking water.

Last weeks major accomplishments include an extension of aviation programs such as air traffic control until September 2017, genetically modified food labeling requirements and an authorization without any funding to battle the opioid epidemic. 

Because few if any appropriations bills will be enacted by the beginning of the fiscal year October 1, Congress will return to session on September 6 with one must-pass bill: a Continuing Resolution (CR). Senate Republican leaders and the House Republican Freedom Caucus are demanding the bill fund government through March 2017. Democrats and some House Republican leaders support a CR that runs into December. A six-month CR would push funding decisions onto the new Congress and president, similar to what occurred in 2008 and 2012. A ten-week CR would place those decisions in the hands of the current Congress and President Barack Obama. It is unclear which view will prevail or if a partisan dispute will force a government shutdown five weeks before the November election.

The Republican National Convention convenes July 18 in Cleveland to nominate Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence. On Friday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will meet with President Obama in Washington.

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

Thought for the day:




Your CPI Daily Buzz, July 15, 2016

Not again

Terrorist Mows Down Families at a Fireworks Display in Nice, France

NICE, France — The Bastille Day fireworks had just ended above the waters of the Mediterranean and the broad Promenade des Anglais of Nice was full of thousands of spectators, many of them children allowed to stay up for the annual celebration, when the killing began.

The instrument of terror was an ordinary white truck. Its driver plowed through traffic barriers, then zigzagged through the crowd on the broad walkway while reportedly firing a weapon out the window. Scores of people lost their lives, scores more were injured.

The suspected attacker was named in the local press as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a delivery driver who lived in the city’s northern suburbs. French media reports suggested the 31-year-old man had a violent criminal record.

Tunisian security officials told Reuters that Bouhlel was born in Msaken, the hometown of Tunisian President Habib Essid. He was married and had three children. Neighbors told BFM TV that he was a rude loner who was "more into women than religion."

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls described the massacre as a “cowardly terrorist attack.” No link to the so-called Islamic State has been established but various jihadi groups have long had a foothold in some of the neighborhoods on the fringes of the famous port and resort town.  - The Daily Beast  


Rep. Jeremy Durham suspends his campaign, doesn't resign

In a stunning about-face, embattled RepublicanJeremy Durham announced Thursday he will suspend his re-election campaign but did not say he is resigning from the legislature. Durham blasted the investigation and House Speaker Beth Harwell and said he never had any sexual contact or attempted to have sexual contact with any of the women in the report. He refused to answer questions.

Harwell fired back at Durham minutes after the announcement. “Representative Durham’s denials are insulting to the brave women whose testimony was detailed in the report. Representative Durham needs to make absolutely clear he is not seeking re-election," Harwell said in a statement.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who earlier in the day said Durham's conduct made the outgoing senator want to "smack him in the mouth," also slammed Durham for not resigning. "His actions were beyond disgraceful. Suspending his campaign but refusing to resign is an affront to the women of this state and the taxpayers who pay his salary," Ramsey said.   - The Tennessean (subscription)  

Move along, nothing to see here

GOP Leaders Say Durham Is An Outlier; Others Complain There’s A Culture Of Indifference

The complaints about Jeremy Durham began within weeks of his election in 2012.

One of the earliest came in February 2013, not long after the Franklin Republican took his seat in the General Assembly. A legislative aide told investigators she was having drinks with Durham and her boss, a female lawmaker identified only as "Rep. Jane Doe 33," when Durham looked her up and down and made a comment about her physique.

Durham pursued the aide for the next several months. The aide believes her boss knew all along. Though she resisted Durham's overtures, the aide was fired. She told investigators that afterward, her boss badmouthed her to other lawmakers, preventing her from finding another job.

In all, nine lawmakers may have known about state Representative Jeremy Durham's behavior before a formal inquiry was launched earlier this year.

Women told investigators from the Tennessee Attorney General's office they began to complain immediately after Durham arrived at the legislature, and several lawmakers are reported to have agreed with them that Durham's behavior crossed the line. But three years would pass before an investigation was opened. That has some asking whether lawmakers — including Republican leaders — should have done more to stop him.

Several women told investigators they sought help from lawmakers, or that lawmakers were nearby when they were harassed by Durham. One woman, a lobbyist, says she showed a legislator the text messages on her phone that Durham had sent her and demanded he "fix this." To the woman's knowledge, the lawmaker took no action.

Yet another woman says she was told to go home and talk to her husband before filing a complaint.

'Welcome To Capitol Hill'

According to investigators, several woman say Durham shrugged off their complaints about his behavior by telling them the same line, "Welcome to Capitol Hill." Nonetheless Republican leaders say Durham's behavior was an outlier, atypical of state lawmakers. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says the culture around the state Capitol has changed significantly since he first arrived in the early 1990s.

"When somebody like a Jeremy Durham says something like 'Welcome to Capitol Hill,' it makes you just want to smack him in the mouth," he says. "Because that's not the way it is. It really isn't."   - WPLN   

It's an ill wind that blows nobody good

Williamson Dems Raise Cash Off Durham’s Troubles, GOP Keeps Moving Right

Could Jeremy Durham's problems result in Williamson County actually electing a Democrat?

Early voting starts Friday, July 15. Exactly a week prior, embattled state House Rep. Jeremy Durham filed a lawsuit to stop a damning investigation by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office from being released two days before polls open.

But Durham didn’t need the investigation to be actually out to be damaged by the allegations of sexual harassment and campaign-finance impropriety. Second-quarter fundraising totals were released July 11, and Durham brought in just $16,777 — a shockingly low amount for someone who raised $78,050 in the second half of last year, before his resignation as House majority whip.   - Nashville Scene 

Welcome back

Obama reappoints TVA board members

President Obama announced Thursday he is reappointing a third of the 9-member board that oversees the Tennessee Valley Authority, including TVA chairman Joe Ritch.

The Obama White House said it will appoint for new 5-year terms Peter Mahurin of Kentucky, Mike McWherter of Tennessee and Ritch of Alabama. All three were previously appointed by Obama to the TVA board in 2013 and their terms expired on May 18, although TVA rules allow the directors to stay on the board until the end of the year if their successor is not yet selected.

McWherter, an attorney and businessman, is the son of former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter. The younger McWherter ran unsuccessfully in 2009 for governor as a Democrat. He is owner and president of Central Distributors, Inc., and Volunteer Distributing Co., Tennessee-based beverage distribution companies. ,He served as chairman of First State Bank of Union City, and on the board of directors of the Jackson Energy Authority.

The nominations for the TVA board must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.   - Chattanooga Times Free Press (subscription)   

Editor's Note:  Mike McWherter was a founding board member of the Crockett Policy Institute.  Congratulations Mike!

Cut 'em some slack

Tennessee to cut testing time for students

Tennessee has cut the first part of spring standardized testing to create only one assessment window at the end of the school year.

The changes are expected to reduce testing time for students and teachers by about 30 percent and are made possible by the Tennessee Department of Education’s two-year, $60 million contract withMinnesota-based Questar Assessment, which was finalized Thursday morning.

For grade 3-8 students, that’s about three-and-a-half hours less time spent on state-mandated standardized testing each year. High school students will also see a cut in year-end tests with a typical 11th-grader seeing about the same reduction in testing time.

“This keeps flexibility for schools, but also maximizes instructional time,” said Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to reporters on Thursday. “And it will have a positive impact for school climate.”   - Tennessean (subscription)  

Republicans weigh in

Tennessee GOP weighs in on Trump’s VP pick

Reports that Donald Trump has selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for his GOP running mate has some Tennessee Republicans wondering — who, exactly, is this guy?

"I know very little," said Mike Arms, a Republican political strategist and chief of staff during former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's administration.

Susan Richardson Williams, a Knoxville delegate headed to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, said she's looking forward to getting to know Pence. She's a public relations firm owner and former GOP state party chair. "I'm sure we'll get to meet (Pence) and see him and hear him," she said. "He's not as unknown as Sarah Palin was when she was named for John McCain."

Tennessee's U.S. Sen. Bob Corker was a popular early choice for vice president on Trump's ticket, but Corker took himself out of the conversation a week ago. Many have speculated he may wind up holding a top Cabinet post should Trump be elected. Corker did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Until Trump makes the official announcement, many in the Tennessee congressional delegation declined to comment at length on the selection of Pence.

After the attack on Nice, France, on Thursday, Trump said he would delay his announcement, which was originally planned for Friday.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said he would not comment until the official announcement was made.   - Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription)


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Gettin' outa Dodge

Congress skips town with a long list of unfinished business

Congress started the month with a long to-do list, but it left town Thursday for seven weeks with most of it unfinished.

The House and Senate on Thursday wrapped up business for the summer without finalizing legislation to combat the Zika virus, addressing the recent string of gun violence or making significant progress toward completing this year’s budget work.

In what has become a familiar ritual, Democrats and Republicans pointed the finger at each other over who is to blame. It’s a gamble by leaders in both parties that voters will hold the other side accountable for gridlock come November.

The issue drawing the most attention is the failure to provide funding for efforts to combat the Zika virus, which causes birth defects and has spread through South America and the Caribbean.   - The Washington Post  (subscription) 

Too evangelical?

Mike Pence, Trump’s Likely VP Pick, Is Too Anti-Gay Even for Republicans

In choosing Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has shored up the GOP’s religious base. But based on the Indiana governor’s disastrous run-in with pro-business Republicans and moderates last year over gay rights, Trump may have just lost the election.

On the face of it, the Pence pick makes all the sense in the world. While most evangelical leaders have cozied up to the twice-divorced, philandering, casino-owning, Bible-mispronouncing, clearly irreligious Trump, many key conservative Christian voices have actually inveighed against him.

For example, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission—no liberal or moderate—penned a fiery New York Times op-ed condemning Trump. (Trump, of course, fired back on Twitter, calling Moore “a terrible representative of Evangelicals.”) 

If Mike Pence were merely a foe of abortion, that would be one thing. But Trump has chosen the poster child for “religious freedom” and anti-gay discrimination—precisely where pro-business Republicans have drawn the line.

While chambers of commerce may lack the anti-abortion zeal of the Family Research Council, they’ve been more than happy to be in coalitions with them. Banning abortion isn’t bad for business, after all. But the LGBT issue has been a different story.

When Pence turned against the LGBT community last year, pushing through a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” or RFRA, that allowed businesses to turn away gay customers, enabled corporations to deny insurance coverage to LGBT people (and women), and, more broadly, was accurately interpreted as a gift to the anti-gay fringe of the Christian right (such as the lobbyists who stood behind Pence when he signed the law), the business community rebelled.

The reason wasn’t altruism, but capitalism. In the furor over Indiana’s RFRA, the state lost 12 large conventions, an estimated $60 million in business, and an untold number of businesses choosing to locate elsewhere, with the Hoosier State rebranded as the Hater State.

One study estimated that the total economic cost of Pence’s RFRA has been $250 million.

It doesn’t matter what gay people think of Pence—they’re not going to vote for Trump anyway. But it does matter what moderate Republicans and Democrats think. And based on the last year of evidence, they don’t think highly of using religion as a pretext for discrimination. On this issue, Pence is a loser.   - The Daily Beast  


Trump versus Clinton: The Pinocchio count so far

Both major-party candidates have unusually high disapproval ratings. But how do they compare on The Pinocchio Test?

With the Republican and Democratic national conventions unfolding over the next two weeks, it seems an appropriate time to take stock of more than a year of fact checks of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. All told, The Washington Post Fact Checker has scrutinized their statements more than 100 times, not counting claims they made in primary debates.

Not every fact check resulted in a rating. Trump’s claims were rated 52 times, compared with 35 for Clinton. 

Often, Clinton’s staff can quickly provide documentation that backs up, or at least explains, the facts and figures that she cites. By contrast, Trump’s small staff rarely responds to fact-checking inquiries and never provides an explanation for his statements.

Trump is also the rare politician who will repeat false claims, over and over, even after they have been debunked by fact-checking organizations. Most politicians will simply stop repeating a claim after receiving Four Pinocchios, our worst rating.

Trump (52 rated claims)

Four Pinocchios: 33 (63 percent)

Three Pinocchios: 11 (21 percent)

Two Pinocchios: 5 (10 percent)

One Pinocchio: 1 (2 percent)

Geppetto Checkmark: 2 (4 percent).


Clinton (35 rated claims)

Four Pinocchios: 5 (14 percent)

Three Pinocchios: 13 (36 percent)

Two Pinocchios: 11 (30.5 percent)

One Pinocchio: 2 (5.5 percent)

Geppetto Checkmark: 5 (14 percent)

As you see, the ratio of Trump’s Four-Pinocchios ratings is sky-high. In fact, nearly 85 percent of Trump’s claims that we vetted were false or mostly false. A line graph of Trump’s numbers would show a very steep sky jump. By contrast, Clinton has a bell curve of a typical politician. The number of false claims equals the number of true claims, while her other claims fall mostly somewhere in the middle.

Trump’s Four-Pinocchios claims are too numerous to tally; we even have created Web page that contains a complete list. The volume of his false claims is extraordinary, especially because he so often repeats them.  He continued to say that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when that never happened. He repeatedly says he opposed the Iraq war from the start, when that’s false. He constantly says the Islamic State terrorist group controls the oil in Libya, when that’s wrong. He routinely inflates the unemployment rate from 4.9 percent to as high as 42 percent.

In that sense, the raw numbers do little justice for how cavalier Trump is with the facts; there’s certainly never been a major-party politician with Trump’s Four-Pinocchio score.  - Fact Checker, The Washington Post

Thought for the day:

"This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect."   - Dwight D. Eisenhower



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