US Democratic presidential candidacy – popularity versus electability

There is no indication yet whether there will be any serious Republican contender for the presidential nomination prepared to stand against Donald Trump. That’s if Trump stands again for a job it is claimed he never really wanted in the first place – I think it quite likely Trump will stand again, as an excuse to keep having campaign rallies where he is cheered for his crass attacks and incitement, and to try to prove he can win the popular vote in an election without the help of the Russians.

All the action is in with Democrat candidates, where there are now eleven at least semi-serious contenders with ex-vice president Joe Biden now officially in the contest – Former VP Biden’s 2020 bid reshapes White House race

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden entered the 2020 Democratic presidential field on Thursday as an instant front-runner, drawing momentum away from other leading candidates and putting new pressure on underperformers to find ways to stay relevant.

Biden, 76, a longtime U.S. senator who served two terms as former President Barack Obama’s No.2, announced his bid in a video describing the high stakes of the race to take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and let that happen.”

Trump responded with typical name calling and irony:

Trump responded in a post on Twitter, saying “welcome to the race Sleepy Joe” and slamming Biden’s intelligence.

Someone of Biden’s political stature was bound to impact on the field of candidates.

Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, says it remains unclear if Biden can build on his loyal base of support. If that happens, it could come at Sanders’ expense.

Given his longstanding support from African-Americans and his partnership with Obama, Biden could also affect the candidacy of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who is widely regarded as a serious contender for the nomination.

Polls have already installed Biden as favourite. He is reasonably popular, but does that men he is electable?

Five Thirty Eight: Democrats Think Biden Is Electable, But He’s Not Everyone’s First Choice

Beating President Trump in November 2020 is really important to Democrats. Sizable shares of Democrats tell pollsters that a candidate’s “electability” will be a very important factor in their primary vote — even more than the candidate’s policy positions. The problem is that we don’t know for sure what makes a candidate electable.

But we can get an idea of what Democratic voters think an electable candidate looks like by finding polls that ask voters which 2020 presidential hopeful they think has the best chance of winning the general election, in addition to asking who they would support independent of electability concerns.

At least two recent polls have asked both questions: a Quinnipiac poll of registered Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters in California and a Granite State Poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters (conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center). Perhaps unsurprisingly, in both cases, the percentage of voters who say each candidate is the most electable is very similar to the percentage of voters who support each candidate.

But there are some telling divergences: Some candidates widely seen as electable don’t have as much support from voters, while others who have generated a lot of voter enthusiasm aren’t seen as particularly strong general-election candidates.

The table below looks at the difference in each poll between the share of voters who support each candidate and the share who think he or she is the strongest general-election candidate, then averages those differences.

There is quite a difference between those two polls so I don’t think too much can be taken from it, but it shows that Biden and Bernie Sanders are the obvious front runners.

By election time next November Sanders will be 79 years old, while Biden will be nearly 78. If either won they would be presidents while in their eighties.

Trump is just a little younger – he will be 74 next election. I don’t think there’s much chance of him growing up by then.

If those three turn out to remain the leading contenders then health will be a wild card – health of the old men candidates.

There is a lot of campaigning to go just to get nominated, and there could be other candidates yet to declare their intentions, so it’s difficult to judge how it could go for the  Democrats.

Meanwhile if Trump puts himself forward again and doesn’t get beaten for the candidacy – it’s difficult to know what the Republicans would prefer, to stick with a badly flawed incumbent president, or to try someone else if anyone is prepared to stand against Trump – much will probably depend on what happens over the next 18 months with the economy, with trade deficits, with the huge and growing deficit, with international relations, and with sideshows like the US-Mexico wall.

And whether Trump can pull back support, especially in crucial states, or whether he keeps disappointing and pissing off more and more people.  His core support is at least 10% too light – but any Democratic opponent would also have to appeal to the moveable vote in the middle, and it’s far too soon to know if any of them look capable of that.

Another ‘family values’ politician fails and falls

We only tend to hear about the transgressors but there seems to be a lot of politicians who promote ‘family values’ who act the opposite.

Cleveland:  Ohio legislator Wes Goodman led secret gay life, made unwelcome advances to younger men, people who knew him say

In public, Wesley Goodman was an up-and-coming conservative who championed pro-family and anti-LGBT causes and aspired to someday run for Congress.

In private, he exchanged salacious texts and emails with gay men he met on Capitol Hill, and sent sexually suggestive messages to young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain, according to three people who knew him when he worked in Washington.

Goodman’s double life ended this week when he resigned from the Ohio legislature after House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger was alerted to Goodman’s involvement in “inappropriate behavior” with a man in his state office in Columbus.

Johnny Hadlock, then a staffer for another GOP congressman in Washington, said he met Goodman in 2010. Hadlock said he confided in Goodman that he was a closeted gay man and the two began exchanging text messages.

In an interview with cleveland.com, Hadlock described the messages as sexting and gay banter, and said he engaged in phone sex with Goodman.

The conservative operative said he’d target college kids who wanted to have him as a mentor and were scared to report his sexual advances because they didn’t want to damage their own careers. A former co-worker shared screenshots of messages Goodman sent him that the operative likened to the lewd texts that derailed the congressional career of New York’s Anthony Weiner.

The Independent:  Anti-LGBT politician resigns after being ‘caught having sex with man in his office’

An Ohio lawmaker who routinely touted his Christian faith and anti-LGBT views has resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office.

Wes Goodman, who is the Republican state legislator for Ohio, is married to a woman who is assistant director of an annual anti-abortion rally known as March for Life.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the observer told Ohio House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe what had happened on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Dittoe responded by telling House Speaker Republican Cliff Rosenberger who in turn met with Mr Goodman.

The 33-year-old, who has been branded the “conscience of the conservative movement”, resigned for “inappropriate conduct” shortly after the meeting took place.

Mr Goodman, whose Twitter biography describes him as “Christian. American. Conservative. Republican. Husband to @Beth1027”, has regularly claimed “natural marriage” occurs between a man and a woman.

“Healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio’s proud history and the key to Ohio’s future greatness,” reads his campaign website which has now been taken offline.

Another example of moral corruption in the US.

Trump pot mocks Franken kettle

President Donald Trump has mocked Senator Al Franken after revelations of sexual harassment.

Trump wading into this has raised a few eyebrows given revelations and accusations involving him and harassment. And Franken has at least admitted bad behaviour, Trump attacked rather than acknowledged wrongdoing.

the exposure of Trump’s misconduct during last year’s presidential election campaign was a significant step towards the flood of revelations and accusations over the last month, started with the crash and burning of Harvey Weinstein.

NY Times: In Mocking Franken Over Claims of Sexual Misconduct, Trump Joins a Debate He Started

Last fall, Donald J. Trump inadvertently touched off a national conversation about sexual harassment when a recording of him boasting about groping women was made public at the same time a succession of women came forward to assert that groping was something he did more than talk about.

A year later, after a wave of harassment claims against powerful men in entertainment, politics, the arts and the news media, the discussion has come full circle with President Trump criticizing the latest politician exposed for sexual misconduct even as he continues to deny any of the accusations against him.

In this case, Mr. Trump focused his Twitter-fueled mockery on a Democratic senator while largely avoiding a similar condemnation of a Republican Senate candidate facing far more allegations. The turn in the political dialogue threatened to transform a moment of cleansing debate about sexual harassment into another weapon in the war between the political parties, led by the president himself.

Indeed, Republicans on Friday were more than happy to talk about Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who apologized this week after a radio newscaster said he forcibly kissed her and posed for a photograph a decade ago appearing to fondle her breasts while she was sleeping.

Democrats, for their part, sought to keep the focus on Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama who has been accused of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple women going back even further, including one who was 14 at the time.

It has embarrassed both Democrats and Republicans, with both being guilty of partisan attacks while turning a blind eye to their own transgressors.

But the notion that Mr. Trump himself would weigh in given his own history of crude talk about women and the multiple allegations against him surprised many in Washington who thought he could not surprise them anymore. A typical politician with Mr. Trump’s history would stay far away from discussing someone else’s behavior lest it dredge his own back into the spotlight.

But as Mr. Trump has shown repeatedly during his 10-month presidency, he is rarely deterred by conventional political wisdom even as he leaves it to his staff to fend off the cries of hypocrisy.

White House aides labored on Friday to distinguish Mr. Trump’s case from those of others, arguing that the president’s conduct was not at issue because he won the election last year after voters had a chance to evaluate both the claims against him and his denials.

That’s typical of the excuse making for their own, something that has more than tacitly approved of and enabled ongoing sexual harassment going back at least fifty five years to the abuses of President Kennedy.

“This was covered pretty extensively during the campaign,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. “We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.”

She added that Mr. Trump still maintained that the more than a dozen women who have said that he kissed or groped them against their will were all lying. And she acknowledged no double standard in the president chastising others for sexual misconduct.

“Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t,” she said. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.”

Yes, it is a clear distinction. Franken has admitted what he did was wrong, happening in an area that allowed it.

Of course Hillary Clinton has waded in to this.

But Democrats saw the distinction differently. Hillary Clinton said Mr. Franken’s apology and call for an ethics committee investigation “is the kind of accountability I’m talking about — I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump.”

Speaking with Rita Cosby on WABC Radio, Mrs. Clinton added, “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who have done neither.”

There’s a high degree of irony there given that tacl of apology and accountability of her husband, Bill.

For her own part, the sexual harassment conversation has been uncomfortable for Mrs. Clinton as well. Conservatives defending Mr. Moore point to various allegations made against Bill Clinton when he was president, including sexual assault, and even some liberals said they should rethink their defense of the 42nd president.

On Franken versus Ttrump she has a valid point.

But the condemning of opponents alongside defending of their own politicians by both Democrats and Republicans is evidence of a morally corrupt political system in the United States.

Trump’s denials, now alongside his mocking of Franken, looks distinctly like a socially corrupt president. The worst rot, whether it be Kennedy, Clinton (Bill) or Trump, is clearly at the top.

Accusations and trials in public by media are far from ideal, and will be manifestly unfair to some.

But this rot has been allowed to continue for a long time, and actions outside the old way of doing things (blind eyes and under-carpet sweeping) needed something drastic and unconventional to break the cycle of harassment and abuse.

And apart from the nonsense of “the president’s conduct was not at issue because he won the election last year after voters had a chance to evaluate both the claims against him and his denials”:

RCP average Trump approval:

  • Disapprove 56.9%
  • Approve 38.4%

The US voters did choose a president with a highly suspect past, but that was over an opponent with her own suspect past plus the known poor sexual behaviour of her husband. That’s not a strong position from which one can claim the moral high ground.

There is evidence at least of Trump having an appalling attitude to women in the past. The pot should start by addressing that adequately.

US shootings

News of two shootings in the US, one of Republican politicians.

Fox News:  Scalise shooter ID’d as James Hodgkinson

A gunman believed to be a supporter of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sprayed a hail of bullets at a GOP baseball practice Wednesday morning, injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others before U.S. Capitol Police took down the rifle-wielding assailant.

The shooter, who had a violent history including arrests for battery, resisting arrest and drunken driving, was identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, of Illinois, Fox News confirmed. President Trump said Hodgkinson died from injuries sustained when he was shot by police.

It’s awful to see what appears to be a political shooting. Any mass attack is bad, targeting politicians (presuming they were specifically targeted) is terrible for democracy.

Bernie Sanders responded:

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

This is likely to spark debate (again) on US gun laws – for example why someone with a violent history was allowed access to firearms – and divisions in US politics.

Gezza has pointed out another shooting:  UPS says employee shoots, injures 4 at San Francisco delivery facility

 UPS employee opened fire at a San Francisco package delivery facility on Wednesday, injuring four and prompting a massive police response in a neighborhood near downtown, officials said.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told The Associated Press that an employee fired inside the facility before the drivers were sent out to do their normal daily deliveries. Gaut said four people were injured and that he believed the shooter “turned the gun on himself.”

Employee and ex-employee shootings seem to be common in the US, I saw of another in the news recently.

Earlier this month: Orlando shooting: ‘Disgruntled’ ex-employee had planned shooting, investigators say

The gunman who opened fire at an Orlando factory had planned to kill five of his former coworkers by singling them out and shooting them before turning the gun on himself, investigators confirmed on Tuesday.

Police had confronted Neumann once before at the factory, when he was accused of battering a co-worker in June 2014. The co-worker said Neumann punched him in the back of the head knocking him to the ground, according to the incident report. But the co-worker later said Neumann chased him and then hit him on the back of the head.

No charges were filed in the 2014 incident after both men were interviewed. The co-worker was not among Monday’s victims, Demings said. Aside from the 2014 incident, Neumann also had a criminal history “minor in nature,” with arrests for possession of marijuana and DUI.

Obviously the easy access to firearms is an issue in the US.

I think that the entertainment industry (‘Hollywood’ plus the gaming industry) also has some responsibility with the normalisation of violence and shooting as a way of ‘resolving’ many things.

The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of statistics. Summary to date for 2017:

  • Total number of incidents: 27,811
  • Number of deaths: 6,878
  • Number of injuries: 13,500
  • Mass shootings: 154
  • Defensive use: 939
  • Unintentional shooting: 915

It is spread across the country where there are people, but looks to be worst in the east:

Daily averages:

  • Incidents: 170 per day
  • Number of deaths: 42 per day
  • Number of injuries: 82 per day
  • Mass shootings: nearly 1 per day
  • Defensive use: 5 per day
  • Unintentional shooting: 5 per day

It is not just a law and order problem, it is also a societal problem.

Locking criminals up doesn’t solve the problem – United States incarceration rate

In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population.

While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

This rate has climbed dramatically:

The US gun lobby seems to remain stronger than the public safety lobby.

The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world at about 88.8 per 100 citizens.

This is not a problem that will be easily solved. It is sad but inevitable that politicians will be included amongst the targets.

USA – Trump tries political blackmail

 

News or views or issues from the USA.USFlag


I know political threats are probably common, done privately, but Donald Trump is openly threatening Republicans who won’t rubber stamp his agenda.

All is not well in the once Grand Old Party.

Fox News: Trump on Freedom Caucus: ‘We must fight them’

President Trump on Thursday struck back at the House caucus that sunk his ObamaCare replacement bill, threatening their legislative careers if the staunchly conservative members refuse to get on board with the new president’s agenda.

Trump is attacking via Twitter of course.

Later Thursday, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Justin Amash returned fire in the Republican civil war:

Later, Amash told Fox News that “most people don’t take well to being bullied” and compared Trump’s tactics to those of a fifth grader.

Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan, however, refused to take Trump’s bait during an interview on “America’s Newsroom.”

“We appreciate the president,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to help the president, but the fact is you have to look at the legislation.”

He added: “I’m not here to assign blame to anyone…what I focus on doing is doing what I told the voters we’re going to do.”

And also a public spat between House Speaker Paul Ryan and a Republican Senator.

Ryan and a top Senate Republican engaged in a brief public spat Thursday about comments Ryan made earlier in the morning, seeming to suggest Trump should not try to work with Democrats.

“What I worry about, Norah, is that if we don’t do this, then he’ll just go work with Democrats to try and change ObamaCare and that’s not – that’s hardly a conservative thing,” Ryan told CBS.

Sen. Bob Corker, an avid backer of Trump’s during the presidential campaign who was among those considered to be vice president, shot back on Twitter: “We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem.”

Ryan, during his news conference, dismissed Corker’s remarks.

“They’re not going to help us repeal ObamaCare, that’s my point,” Ryan said of Democratic lawmakers.

I wonder what is going on in private.

Conservative candidate to stand against Trump

It is being reported that a conservative ‘third-party’ candidate will stand for US president. Presumably Evan McMullin has little chance of winning but he could make things even more difficult for Donald Trump.

ABC News reports: Former CIA Officer Evan McMullin to Launch Independent Presidential Bid

Evan McMullin, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, will run for president as a third-party conservative alternative to Donald Trump, GOP operatives working to back the candidate told ABC News today.

The operatives working on McMullin’s bid resigned from Better for America in order to push his candidacy. Better for America, a 501(c)(4) organization that cannot officially endorse or back McMullin’s bid, has been working for months on trying to select a candidate and get on ballots throughout the country. In some states, like Texas, they will likely have to sue to get on the ballot. A 501(c)(4) is an issue-based nonprofit that can raise unlimited funds and does not have to disclose its donors.

It’s an extreme uphill climb, but his supporters are confident McMullin, 40, can act as a disruptor who they hope can peel off some red states in a race where some Republicans are still resistant to Donald Trump.

McMullin’s candidacy, backed by some Republicans, shows how the “Never Trump” movement is still working to upend Trump even with less than three months left until the general election. McMullin may be a long shot, but will have a legitimate organization behind him.

McMullin, who resigned this morning as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, will file today and in a statement told ABC News exclusively:

“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President.”

The group says prominent Republicans will back McMullin, who has some well-known GOP operatives working behind the effort, including Republican consultant Rick Wilson and Florida-based pollster and operative Joel Searby.

Things don’t look great in the once grand old party. McMullin may or may not pull significant numbers of votes away from Trump, and highlighting the Republican split over Trump won’t help either.

Trumps speech and more lies

I think everyone knows that Donald Trump blatantly lies.  Some people don’t care and want him anyway, others care a lot and do want him anywhere near the White House.

I’ve mostly avoided his convention acceptance speech, it’s a highly orchestrated even and should be a carefully written teleprompted speech.

The Herald has Donald Trump’s full speech to the GOP convention (video)

Politico has the pre-leaked script: Full text: Donald Trump 2016 RNC draft speech transcript
(I have no idea whether the leak was ineptness or more orchestration).

And fact checkers have been quick off the mark: Eleven lies Donald Trump told in his Republican National Convention speech (only eleven?)

Despite promising “the truth, and nothing else” in his convention speech, Donald Trump presented the nation with a series of previously debunked claims – and some new ones – today.

He even brazenly lies about telling the truth. Unless he actually believes his own bullshit.

1. TRUMP: “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 per cent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.”

THE FACTS: A rollback? President Barack Obama has actually achieved some big increases in spending for state and local law enforcement, including billions in grants provided through the 2009 stimulus.

2. TRUMP: “The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015. They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.”

THE FACTS: The pace of releasing immigrants is driven not by the Obama administration, but by a court ruling. A federal judge ruled last year that the government couldn’t hold parents and children in jail for more than 20 days. Trump is right that the number in this budget year has already exceeded last year’s total. But it’s down from 2014.

3. TRUMP: “When a secretary of state illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence – I know that corruption has reached a level like never before.”

THE FACTS: Clinton’s use of a private server to store her emails was not illegal under federal law. Her actions were not established as a crime. FBI Director James Comey declined to refer the case for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department, instead accusing Clinton of extreme carelessness. As for Trump’s claim that Clinton faces no consequence, that may be true in a legal sense. But the matter has been a distraction to her campaign and fed into public perceptions that she can’t be trusted.

4. TRUMP: “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 per cent compared to this point last year.”

THE FACTS: Not according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police fatalities daily. The group found that the number of police officers who died as of July 20 is up just slightly this year, at 67, compared with 62 through the same period last year. And overall, police are statistically safer on America’s streets now than at any time in recent decades.

5. TRUMP: “My opponent has called for a radical 550 per cent increase in Syrian (refugees). … She proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from. I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people.”

THE FACTS: Trump persists in making the bogus claim that the US doesn’t screen refugees. The administration both screens them and knows where they are from. The Department of Homeland Security leads the process, which involves rigorous background checks. Processing of a refugee can take 18 months to two years, and usually longer for those coming from Syria. Refugees are also subject to in-person interviews and fingerprint and other biometric screening.

6. TRUMP: “Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when President Obama took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely. … President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing.”

THE FACTS: Trump is playing with numbers to make the economy look worse than it actually is. The sluggish recovery over the past seven years has been frustrating. But with unemployment at 4.9 per cent, the situation isn’t as bleak as he suggests.

Trump’s figure of 14 million who’ve stopped working since Obama took office comes from the Labor Department’s measure of people not in the workforce. It’s misleading for three reasons: The US population has increased in that time; the country has aged and people have retired; and younger people are staying in school longer for college and advanced degrees, so they’re not in the labor force, either.

On national debt, economists say a more meaningful measure than dollars is the share of the overall economy taken up by the debt. By that measure, the debt rose 36 per cent under Obama (rather than doubling). That’s roughly the same as what occurred under Republican President George W. Bush.

The Hispanic population has risen since Obama while the poverty rate has fallen.

7. TRUMP: “After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the entire world. Libya is in ruins, and our ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos. Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis now threatens the West. … This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

THE FACTS: It’s an exaggeration to suggest Clinton, or any secretary of state, is to blame for the widespread instability and violence across the Middle East.

Clinton worked to impose sanctions that helped coax Tehran to a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers last year, a deal in which Iran rolled back its nuclear program to get relief from sanctions that were choking its economy.

She did not start the war in Libya.

Clinton had no role in military decisions made during the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

On Iraq, Clinton as a senator voted in 2002 to grant President George W. Bush authority to invade Iraq, but has since said it was a “mistake”.

8. TRUMP: “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”

THE FACTS: Trump continues to repeat this inaccuracy. The US tax burden is actually the fourth lowest among the 34 developed and large emerging-market economies that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Taxes made up 26 per cent of the total U.S. economy in 2014, according to the OECD. That’s far below Sweden’s tax burden of 42.7 per cent, Britain’s 32.6 per cent or Germany’s 36.1 per cent. Only three OECD members had a lower figure than the US: Chile, South Korea and Mexico.

9. TRUMP: “My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton has not proposed any revocation of the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. She does support a ban on certain military-style weapons, similar to the law President Bill Clinton signed in the 1990s. That ban expired after 10 years and was not renewed. Clinton also backs an expansion of existing criminal background checks to apply to weapons sales at gun shows. The checks now apply mainly to sales by federally licensed gun dealers.

But when one of the most powerful jobs in the world is at stake why worry about telling the truth?

Trump staffer admits plagiarism

Meredith MvIver, a staff writer for the Trump Organisation, has taken responsibility for the speech plagiarism, but she won’t be fired (publicly at least).

There was a political furore after Melania Trump’s speech when it was discovered that some parts of the speech repeated verbatim parts of a  speech by Michelle Obama in 2008. This overshadowed what was otherwise seen as a good speech on the opening day of the Republican Party convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

See NBC News: Trump Campaign Struggles to Manage Melania Trump Speech Fallout

“Not paying attention to details — that costs elections,” a source close to the campaign, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told NBC News.

Top Trump aide Paul Manafort responded erratically to the news, framing the story as overblown, as unimportant to the candidate, and later as part of a partisan conspiracy targeting Mrs. Trump.

Manafort first told CBS News there was “no cribbing” of Obama’s speech and minimized the issue’s relevance.

In an interview with NBC News later that morning, Manafort said Mr. Trump was “very pleased with last night.”

Later, Manafort accused Hillary Clinton of manufacturing the plagiarism story.

Mr. Trump, who praised her “absolutely incredible” speech on Twitter last night, is unlikely to tolerate an error that cuts so close to his relationship with his wife.

But someone has owned up to the ‘mistake’ and it looks like they won’t be fired.

SO cn0q5uqweaqzplf

She says she wrote down phrases given to her by Melania Trump and included them in the speech. This means that Ms Trump was aware of where they came from. So it’s perhaps not surprising that MvIver is not being sacked because that would look awkward for Ms Trump.

CNN: Trump aide offers resignation in Melania Trump plagiarism incident

McIver said she “asked” to put out a statement because she was concerned about how the controversy was “distracting from Mr. Trump’s historic campaign for president and Melania’s beautiful message and presentation.”

The Trump campaign has refused to acknowledge the incident as plagiarism, instead slamming the media and insisting it was moving on, with no plans to fire any staffers.

Donald Trump, for his part, pressed forward with the strategy of attacking the media as late as an hour before the campaign statement Wednesday.

“The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails,” Trump said in a tweet.

McIver has served as a ghostwriter for the Trumps in the past, helping Donald Trump write some of his books, including “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire.”

The New York Times identified McIver as a former ballet dancer and English major.

There has been concern and criticism expressed about the lack of professionalism in the Trump campaign for months. Experienced campaigners, including Republicans, have said that plagiarism was a fundamental no-no in  political speech writing.

Yesterday Donald Trump was officially nominated as the Republican presidential candidate. He is expected to officially accept this at the convention on Friday.

“She plagiarized a statement about hard work”

The biggest thing to come out of the Republican convention today was Melania Trump’s speech – especially the parts that were Michelle Obama’s speech repeated.

She plagiarized a statement about hard work. Seriously. You can’t write this stuff.

CNN: Melania Trump’s speech plagiarizes parts of Michelle Obama’s
(a video comparison of the speeches via the link)

At least one passage in Melania Trump’s speech Monday night at the Republican National Convention plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Side-by-side comparisons of the transcripts show the text in Trump’s address following, nearly to the word, the first lady’s own from the first night of the Democratic convention in Denver nearly eight years ago.

Fact checking the speeches

The controversy quickly overshadowed the speech, which was to have been her introduction to voters.

First noticed by @JarrettHill

TrumpvObamaSpeeches

Doesn’t look very flash for Ms Trump, nor for Mr Trump, and it has taken over most of the media coverage.

It’s truly fitting that 8 years of mockery of Obama’s teleprompter speeches should end in an Obama speech plagiarized at the GOP convention.

CNN:

The Trump campaign released a statement on the speech after the similarities were uncovered, but the statement did not mention the plagiarism charge.

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success,” according to Jason Miller, the senior communications adviser.

Earlier in the day, Melania Trump told NBC’s Matt Lauer: “I read once over it, that’s all, because I wrote it … with (as) little help as possible.”

GOP plots against Trump

The Washington Post via NZ Herald reports that there are moves within the Republican Party to try and derail Donald Trump’s campaign to become the party’s presidential nominee.

Party critics plot Trump’s downfall

Donald Trump fired his top aide yesterday as a campaign to stop him from becoming the Republican candidate in this year’s United States election gathers momentum.

Organisers of the campaign against Trump say they have the support of nearly 400 delegates to the GOP’s convention next month, quickly transforming what began as an idea tossed around on social media into a force that could derail the billionaire’s campaign.

Efforts to unite the party around Trump will not have been helped by the Free The Delegates campaign. Organisers concede their plan could worsen internal party strife but they believe that they are responding to deep-rooted concerns among conservatives about Trump.

“Short-term, yes, there’s going to be chaos,” said Kendal Unruh, a co-founder of the group. “Long-term this saves the party and we win the election. Everything has to go through birthing pains to birth something great.

We’re going to go through the trauma of the birthing pains, but the reward will be worth it.” Unruh said her cause is winning support from “the non-rabble-rousers; the rule-following, church-going grandmas who aren’t out protesting in the streets”. “This is the way they push back.”

Unruh and other GOP delegates from Colorado hatched the idea of trying to stop Trump by introducing a rule change: Instead of binding delegates to the results of the caucuses and conventions – as many party leaders insist they are – the convention’s 2472 delegates should instead be able to vote their conscience and select whomever they want.

For weeks, Unruh, her colleague Regina Thomson and other Colorado Republicans sought out like-minded delegates in other states. After Unruh appeared in newspaper interviews and called in to a few radio talk shows, she said other delegates with similar concerns in places like Louisiana and Missouri reached out.

By the weekend, Unruh was consulting a lawyer about possible fundraising plans while Thomson was compiling the list of interested delegates, building a website and booking a conference call phone line that could host 1000 participants.

Thomson said that at least 1000 people participated in the call. Delegates who participated said they plan to spend this week wooing others to the cause.

On Monday, leaders of Free the Delegates repeatedly insisted that they are not working on behalf of any of Trump’s former opponents.

“The problem is Trump,” said veteran Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a Trump critic. “You can fire all the yes men you want, but the campaign reflects on the candidate, and the candidate is hopelessly flawed.”

So the success of his campaign that seems to have even surprised Trump appears to be turning into a civil war in the GOP. It may be an Old party but it’s not looking very Grand.