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Thursday, November 09, 2017

Get real. Plus: A (fictional) second dossier

Dems won big in VA and now they're crowing like Peter Pan. Fine. They deserve to smile and strut and boast a bit. But let's be realistic: A win in purple Virginia won't necessarily translate into a win in a red state.

Take, for example, the senatorial race in Alabama, now tied at 42/42 according to a Fox News poll. Is it possible for Democrat Doug Jones to eke out a victory over notorious nutball Roy Moore?

If only. This poll by a firm based in Mobile gives Moore an 11 point lead. Other polls put his lead between four and seven points.

Beyond that, we need to confront one basic fact: Virginia votes with paper ballots. Results in that state will not mirror results elsewhere.

Alabama also uses optical scan paper ballots, but they are counted by tabulating machines.
Davenport said after the polls close the machine generates a tape of the results, a list of all the write-in candidates from the electronic scans, and its thumb drive is removed. The thumb drive is uploaded into the central tabulation machine at the probate office.
The paper ballots are kept under lock and key for 22 months, which theoretically means that they can be double-checked. No law requires that the process be audited. A recount will take place only if the margin is less than one-half of one percent -- and any recounts will be tabulated, once again, by machine.

That Fox News poll may bait Dems into wasting money on an unwinnable race.

He's at it again. Remember Ed Klein, writer of political fiction? We've dealt with him before: See here and here. Now he claims that Hillary Clinton is paying Chris Steele big bucks (or pounds) for a second dossier.
The second dossier will allegedly contain evidence that Trump had 'romantic involvements with Russian women' connected to the Kremlin's spy apparatus

The original Russian dossier has been discredited
No it hasn't. Ed Klein has been discredited.

The credibility of the first (and only) dossier has actually been buttressed by recent events: The testimony of Carter Page inadvertently confirmed the document's most important claim (concerning the sale of Rosneft shares), while the revelation that Paul Manafort had three passports undermines the claim proffered by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. To the best of my knowledge, Cohen's passport was the only hard evidence ever presented to counter an assertion of fact made in the dossier.

The idea that Ed Klein -- and no other reporter -- would gain exclusive knowledge of this alleged "second dossier" is hilarious. Trump has dined with Klein and seems to like him just fine. Trump also claims that reporters should eschew unsourced allegations, even though anonymous sourcing is a huge part of Klein's shtick. His books contain lengthy "quotations" of highly dubious dialogue, dialogue that sounds like nothing that any human being would actually say, supposedly recorded word-for-word even though the only people present are unlikely to speak to someone like Klein.

Klein has even pretended to quote Barack Obama speaking to his wife when nobody else was in the room. Inanities like that are the reason why many conservatives -- even Bill O'Reilly! -- wouldn't touch Klein with a ten foot pole.

Jim Newell once called Klein the "king of hacks":
Anyone can do what Ed Klein does. You just take a tiny sliver of news about Hillary Clinton and then come up with the most stilted and obvious imaginable dialogue between two wooden planks that happens to confirm the worst of suspicions about her character in a direct, efficient manner.
You should also check out this Vox piece on Klein's Blood Feud.
Klein is infamous for writing books with salacious details about the Clintons and Obamas, filled with what purport to be direct quotes of the couples spilling their true thoughts in private. These quotes are always attributed to anonymous sources who just happen to be present at the time. They generally portray the politicians in a very unflattering light. And it's difficult to find anyone in DC who believes they happened.
Significantly, despite Klein's portrayal of the Clintons as incredibly indiscreet — "A lot of Klein's revelations come from other characters confessing their deepest thoughts to people they haven't seen in a while," writes Marc Ambinder — somehow no other reporter in the country has managed to confirm Klein's reporting, or get accounts of quotes anywhere near as salacious as the ones he prints.
Klein's more attention-getting claims, though, are made via anonymous sources and concern private conversations and matters — and are therefore impossible to conclusively debunk. "Like clever high school students, many of Klein's claims are almost deliberately uncheckable," Marc Ambinder writes. He adds, "Who is going to know exactly whether Barack and Michelle Obama sleep in separate beds beyond maybe three other people in the universe?"
Only Klein knows for certain whether humans actually said these quotes to him, but they seem to describe a political world that exists only in some conservative fever dream.
I've posted this link to a Daily Kos write-up "Anatomy of a Stolen Election" before:

It describes how the 2007 re-election of Don Siegelman in Alabama was stolen. But that won't be necessary in the Doug Jones/Roy Moore special election. Moore will win hands down, as would his horse if that's all the GOP could find to stand for election. The GOP control of Alabama politics is ironclad and will be for the foreseeable future because of the way the political machine is structured, including the state's outdated, outmoded racially biased constitution. To change that will have to come from inside the state. No amount of money or influence from any outside organization will impact that fact, in my opinion. However, the support of Moore has less to do with his ultraconservative views and more to do with that he has stood up for what his believes to the point of losing his job twice. Standing up for what you believe to that degree means much to southerners--something progressives should keep in mind. Backing down from what you believe is viewed as weakness. Of course it's a lot easier to do that if your mind is relatively closed in the first place, rather than open to different ways of thinking.

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