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Oct. 27 2016 11:28 PM

Illinois Senator Tries to Zing Tammy Duckworth in Debate, Looks Like a Racist Jerk Instead

Sen. Mark Kirk is currently trying to fend off a challenge for his Illinois Senate seat from Democratic congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. The two met in their second of three debates Thursday night at the University of Illinois Springfield. During the debate, the discussion turned to the military and Duckworth discussed her family’s history of military service, which, understandably, is one of her most valuable qualifications for office.

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth began. “I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation.” It was a quick biographical point in a larger answer about the costs of war and remembering those costs when making the decision to put American troops in harm’s way. It was a fine enough answer, one she’s surely given before. For reference, Tammy Duckworth, a two-term congresswoman, served in the Army as a helicopter pilot during the Iraq war where she was wounded, losing both of her legs. Duckworth was born in Thailand, to a Thai mother and an American father, a World War II veteran whose ancestors fought in the American Revolution.


When the moderator turned to Mark Kirk for his 30-second rebuttal Kirk chose, disastrously, to come back on one line of the answer, appearing to think he had caught Duckworth in a lie. “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk said in an affected tone, by way of response. Duckworth took a drink of water. An awkward silence followed before the moderator announced they were moving on to the next question. Zing? Kirk appeared to be thinking. No, no zing.

This is not the first time Mark Kirk’s rhetorical judgment has come into question. See his “bro with no ho” comment about South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for starters. Kirk has also said he will not vote for his party’s nominee for president because he’s “too bigoted and too racist.” Instead, Kirk said he’s voting former CIA Director David Petraeus, who is not, in fact, running for president.

Oct. 27 2016 8:46 PM

Mike Pence’s Plane Skids Off LaGuardia Runway

VP candidate Mike Pence got a bit of a scare when his campaign plane skidded off the runway and into the mud at a rainy LaGuardia Airport Thursday evening. Pence and all those aboard were evacuated through the back of the plane and all appear to be OK, but presumably a bit shook up. “The plane, which was coming from Fort Dodge, Iowa—about a three-hour flight from New York—made a rough impact when it landed.,” according to NBC News. “The pilot slammed on the brakes and travelers could smell burning rubber.”

Oct. 27 2016 8:21 PM

Bundy Brothers Acquitted of Conspiracy Charges for Armed Oregon Wildlife Refuge Standoff

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, leaders of an armed militia group that took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and gun charges relating to the 41-day standoff with federal authorities. The Bundys were among the 26 charged for their participation in the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the pair never disputed that they commandeered the refuge and established armed patrols.

The Bundys, the sons of anti-government, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, claimed the takeover was an act of civil disobedience against what they broadly consider government overreach in its administration of vast swaths of public lands in the western U.S. Dozens of armed anti-government militia-types joined the Bundys holed up on the refuge, while federal authorities largely allowed events to play out in an effort to avoid bloodshed. The Bundys were arrested three-and-a-half weeks into the takeover during a traffic stop where one milita member was killed.


“Federal prosecutors took two weeks to present their case, finishing with a display of more than 30 guns seized after the standoff,” the Associated Press reports. “An FBI agent testified that 16,636 live rounds and nearly 1,700 spent casings were found.” In the end, however, federal prosecutors were not able to show that the Bundys were explicitly “conspiring to impede federal workers from their jobs,” which is the foundation of the conspiracy charge.

Seven other members of the militia are scheduled to go to trial in February and 11 others have already pleaded guilty.

Oct. 27 2016 8:01 PM

Adam Crapser Came Here Legally as an Infant and Is Now Being Deported. That Is Maddening.

The story of Adam Crapser is maddening. Adopted at the age of three years old and brought legally to the United States from South Korea, Crapser lived with multiple sets of abusive foster parents before being kicked out of his home at 16. He broke back into that home, he says, in order to take back a pair of green rubber shoes and a Korean-language Bible that had been some of the lone possessions he had brought with him from Korea. He was arrested and served 25 months in prison after pleading guilty to burglary, then continued to have troubles with the law—including an assault conviction after a fight with a roommate and a violation of a protective order that an ex-girlfriend and mother of one of his children had taken out against him for trying to telephone his son. He has finally cleaned up his life and is a stay-at-home father of four children.

But now the 41-year-old Crapser is going to be deported from the place he has called home since he was three despite having been brought to the United States legally as a small child and having suffered at the hands of abusive parents, who failed to fill out the paperwork to get him U.S. citizenship. Crapser had been in detention awaiting deportation for almost nine months and on Monday he waived an appeal to fight that forced removal from the United States, the Associated Press reported. He did so, his lawyer Lori Walls told the AP, because he was desperate to get out of the detention center.


More from the AP:

In an email, Walls said Adam was eligible for a deportation reprieve called "cancellation of removal," but the "judge decided he did not deserve this relief."
"He will be deported as soon as Immigration and Customs Enforcement makes the necessary arrangements," Walls said. "Adam, his family, and advocates are heartbroken at the outcome."

Immigration Court Judge John C. O'Dell presided over the case and Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman with the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the U.S. Department of Justice, told the AP she couldn’t comment on Crapser's story without a registration number and possibly a privacy waiver.

If you want to know more about how terrible of an injustice this is, read Maggie Jones’ phenomenal New York Times Magazine story on the case from April, 2015, which lays out in painstaking detail Crapser’s “Kafkaesque” odyssey.

The story describes how Crapser’s adoptive parents, Thomas and Dolly Crapser, were charged with dozens of counts of child abuse—including rape, sexual abuse and criminal mistreatment—and convicted of several counts of criminal mistreatment and assault (the father was convicted of one count of sexual abuse and served 90 days in jail).

As the Times Magazine reported:

Dolly, Crapser says, slammed the children’s heads against door frames and once hit him in the back of the head with a two-by-four after he woke her up from a nap. Thomas duct-taped the children’s mouths shut, Crapser says. He also burned Crapser’s hands and once broke his nose when Crapser couldn’t find Thomas’s car keys.

Crapser became subject to deportation when he sought a green card in 2012. The reason he is to be deported is that he is not covered by a 2000 law called the Child Citizenship Act, which gave automatic citizenship to children who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens. That law only covered adoptees under the age of 18 at the time it was passed, leaving an estimated 35,000 intercountry adoptees lacking U.S. citizenship according to what the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium told the AP. Activist groups had been lobbying since at least last year to rectify the missing grandfather clause in the Child Citizenship Act, but to no avail.

ICE spokesman Andrew Muñoz told the Times Magazine in 2015 that “ICE was not aware of Mr. Crapser’s childhood history” when it decided to look at his case but that it would take that history into consideration in any deportation proceeding.

It looks, however, as though that consideration was not enough to keep American immigration officials from sending Crapser away from his wife, his children, and the only home he has ever truly known because of a legal technicality.

Corrrection, 10:00 p.m.: This post originally referred to Adam Crapser's last name as Crasper.

Oct. 27 2016 5:20 PM

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: Miss Finland Says Trump Grabbed Her Butt at Letterman


The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.


Donald Trump's opinion on the double-digit number of women who have accused him of sexual assault is that they are making completely false allegations that they've been put up to by the Clinton campaign. It's not an extremely plausible theory, and it got even less plausible today when a Finnish publication called Ilta-Sanomat reported that a former Miss Finland named Ninni Laaksonen says that Trump groped her before a July 26, 2006, appearance on David Letterman's show.

Obviously I am not an Ilta-Sanomat expert, but Googling confirms that it is a real publication, that Ninni Laaksonen did represent Finland in Trump's Miss Universe pageant, and that the Letterman appearance happened:

A translation via the Telegraph:

Before the show we were photographed outside the building. Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt. I don’t think anybody saw it but I flinched and thought: "What is happening?"

Ilta-Sanomat writes that Laaksonen shared the allegation only after it contacted her to ask about her interactions with Trump.

What I'm getting from this is that Hillary Clinton planted sleeper agents across the globe who were prepared to come forward with fabricated allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump if and only if they were contacted by local tabloid newspapers such as Finland's Ilta-Sanomat. The woman is simply diabolical, and she must be stopped.


Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons.

Oct. 27 2016 3:37 PM

The Latest Clinton-FBI Corruption Allegation Looks More Legitimate Than Usual


FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on June 11, 2015, in Alexandria, Virginia.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The standard right-wing explanation for the FBI's decision not to recommend that Hillary Clinton be prosecuted for keeping some classified information on a private server is that agency director James Comey has been, like, compromised by the global pro-Clinton conspiracy. This theory breaks down a bit when you consider that Comey is a longtime Republican (though he's no longer registered) who donated money to John McCain's and Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns and served in the Justice Department under arch-conservative George W. Bush official John Ashcroft. New reporting by the Wall Street Journal, however, has uncovered some information about one FBI official that at least raises the possibility that the Clinton investigation involved an improper conflict of interest.


Here's the timeline.

  • Longtime Clinton aide and ally—and current Virginia governor—Terry McAuliffe recruited a woman named Jill McCabe to run for state Senate in March 2015. McCabe's husband Andrew was, at that time, the director of the FBI's Washington, D.C., field office.
  • Hillary Clinton was the featured speaker at a June 26, 2015, fundraiser for the Common Good VA PAC and the Democratic Party of Virginia.
  • In late July 2015 the FBI began investigating Clinton's private-server case. In that same month, Andrew McCabe was promoted to become the bureau's associate deputy director—the agency's No. 3. The FBI says that McCabe did not have any "oversight" over the Clinton case as associate deputy director.
  • In October 2015 the Common Good VA PAC, controlled by McAuliffe, gave $450,000 to Jill McCabe's campaign.
  • In November 2015 Jill McCabe lost her race.
  • In February 2016 Andrew McCabe became FBI deputy director, the agency's No. 2. It's at this time that the FBI says he began to have an oversight role over the Clinton investigation. (Ultimate oversight over the case rested with Comey.)

One would not have to be a conspiracy theorist to note that Andrew McCabe, who was involved at least peripherally in an investigation into the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, had/has personal reasons to be friendly to the Democratic Party establishment's interests.

What hasn't been proven is that Hillary Clinton did anything improper. Clinton would have had to be a pretty advanced political chessmaster to do a June 2015 fundraiser with the knowledge that, in October 2015, it would benefit the wife of an FBI official who would be promoted to an oversight position into her email investigation the next February. And McAuliffe would have to be an even savvier operator to have recruited Jill McCabe to run for office in March 2015 in the hopes that, sometime down the line, her husband would get promoted to the point of overseeing an investigation that didn't yet exist. There's also no evidence Andrew McCabe actually influenced the email investigation in a way that benefited Clinton. For all we know, he could've been pushing for her prosecution only to be overruled by Comey.

And yet: It seems like Andrew McCabe should probably have recused himself from the investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate who had, months earlier, headlined a fundraiser that benefited his wife's Democratic political campaign.

Oct. 27 2016 2:30 PM

Putin Denies Having a Favorite in the U.S. Election Before Saying Nice Things About Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin took questions Thursday at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, an annual meeting between Russian and international scholars with senior-level Russian officials. During his presentation this year, more anticipated than normal given the high-level of tensions between the U.S. and Russia, Putin listed a familiar litany of complaints about Western sanctions and U.S. support for anti-Assad rebels in Syria. He also took a question from the audience about the view of the “foreign mass media” that the Kremlin is favoring Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election. Putin denied it, sort of, saying that the idea was a false notion promoted by “those who represent the interests of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton against Mr. Trump, the representative of the Republican Party”:

How is this being done? First the image of an enemy is created. That enemy is Russia. Then it is declared that Trump is the Russian favorite. This is nonsense. This is just a way of political struggle, a way to manipulate public opinion on the eve of the election.

Putin said he doesn’t have a favorite because “we do not know how any candidate would act.” However, he added that “we can’t but welcome the words, the ideas, the intentions mentioned in public referring to the normalization of relations between the United States and Russia.” While he didn’t specify, this presumably refers to Trump’s statements that “If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good.”

Putin also weighed in with some thoughts on Trump’s public image and campaign strategy:

As for Mr. Trump, he seems to have chosen his own method, his own way to appeal to the electorate. What way is this? He’s being quite extravagant, but I think that this has some underlying meaning because I believe he represents the interests of that part of the American society who are tired of the elite that has been in power for decades. He represents the interests of common people and is playing like a simple guy who criticizes those who have been in power for decades, who don’t like that power can be inherited. This is being said directly by U.S. experts. Whether this is effective for him or not, we will see from the election results, but let me repeat once again that we will work with any president who is elected and who will want to work with us.

Putin’s response as to whether Russia is actively trying to interfere in the election, as the U.S. has alleged, admittedly deserves some credit for cleverness and gall: "Does anyone seriously think that Russia can somehow influence the choice of the American people? Is America a banana republic or what? America is a great power."

Oct. 27 2016 1:37 PM

Lawyer Alleges Clarence Thomas Groped Her in 1999

On October 7, the night an audio tape emerged of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault, a lawyer named Moira Smith described her own experience of unwanted sexual contact: In 1999, she wrote on Facebook, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas groped her twice at a dinner party.

“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house” with Thomas, Smith wrote. At the time, she was living in Washington, D.C. as a Truman scholar. “I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding. He was charming in many ways—giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable.” Smith continued:

To my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should sit “right next to him.” When I feebly explained that I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … “are you *sure*??” I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.

Smith noted that she had been raped three years prior, and groped by an acquaintance a few years later. “I do not take the decision to share these incredibly personal and painful moments lightly,” Smith explained:

I also do not share this because of the election, or even really because of Donald Trump. I share this because if this can happen to me—a privileged white woman—three times in ten years, how bad must it be for those who are not as privileged?
Enough is enough.

Oct. 27 2016 12:06 PM

Journalists Need to Stop Sending Tweets About How They Are About to Send an Important Tweet

Wednesday night the Daily Beast's Justin Miller sent a tweet that we need to talk about.

It happens that I know Justin Miller from the meetings that the media has every month to determine who wins elections/from working with him at New York magazine. Justin Miller is a good man, a Michigan man. But Justin Miller, and many of the other writers covering this election, need to hear this message:


You need to stop sending tweets whose only purpose is to claim that you are going to POST HUGE MEGA-NEWS on Twitter at some point in the future.

The story that Miller eventually sent out was a report about how Trump had spoken in inappropriate, lewd terms about a female Apprentice contestant on the set of the show. It was a good story that broke timely news. But after Miller's hype, it seemed like a disappointment. A bombshell? Not really. Disgusting? Only a little!

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald is another self-defeating self-hype offender.

Eichenwald's piece turned out to be a comprehensive but by no means earth-shaking review of international Trump Organization deals that could present foreign-policy conflicts of interests in a Trump administration. Worth writing about. Didn't change the election. Seemed disappointing.

The king of the hype game, though, is indisputably the Washington Post's Robert Costa. Costa has extensive contacts in the world of conservative and Republican politics; he's an invaluable resource for anyone trying to understand how Washington, D.C., works. And yet. He is always at it with this sort of stuff, from the night of the second debate:

Wow, it's about to go down!!!


It turned out Costa had written a piece about a stunt involving Bill Clinton accusers that Trump wasn't able to pull off. Fun story. Not something worth staying up all night for!

Bob, as I call him (we've never corresponded or met), is also extremely guilty of overusing the words scoop and news.

Someone who's involved in debate prep is "being discussed" for a "possible" role in ... debate prep? Ye Gods! Tell Bradlee to stop the presses!

This was from the night that the Times broke the mega-story (which they did, somehow, without tweeting "big story coming ... watch this space" first) about the women accusing Trump of sexual assault:

Did he consider it? Was there drafting? I guess. Was any litigation ever filed? No.

Here's a fun fact: Slate once beat another publication to press with its coverage of a particular news subject because the other publication's writer announced via Twitter that, at some point in the near future, he was going to publish a piece about that news subject. Loose Twitter lips sink ships, journalists! Also, they make the story you eventually publish seem like a letdown. Don't tell me what you're going to do—show me what you've done!

Oct. 27 2016 11:08 AM

The Earth Has Lost More Than Half Its Animals Since 1970

The global wildlife population declined by nearly 60 percent over the past four decades according to an alarming new report from the World Wildlife Foundation and the Zoological Society of London. This rate of decline is set to continue so that by 2020, nearly two thirds of all living creatures on the planet will have died when compared with 1970 population levels.

That estimate comes from the Living Planet Index, a measurement of 3,706 vertebrate species including mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles used to calculate the change in abundance over time. The LPI shows a 58 percent decline between 1970 and 2012, and the report estimates losses will hit 67 percent by the end of the decade. This is the same year, 2020, that U.N. targets for halting the loss of biodiversity are due to be achieved.


It’s important to note that this estimation measures total populations of living creatures, not of the number of species that have gone extinct. While this is a frightening loss of life, much of it is theoretically recoverable. If the wildlife populations have adequate habit and sustenance, they could reproduce and recover.

But the report also explains why this kind of recovery is, at least right now, somewhat unlikely. The report is centered around the increasingly popular idea that we’ve entered the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch defined by human activity. The main drivers of the Anthropocene’s mass die-off of plant and animal individuals and species are habitat loss due to logging, agriculture, or development; species overexploitation such as overfishing; pollution; invasive species; and the effects of climate change. For populations to recover, these drivers would, at the very least, need to be lessened.

This is bad for people as well as plants and animals. The report notes that a growing human population is currently consuming resources far faster than the Earth can replenish them, stating “By 2012, the biocapacity equivalent of 1.6 Earths was needed to provide the natural resources and services humanity consumed in that year.” In other words, we are currently consuming resources at a rate that cannot last indefinitely.

The report offers an optimistic approach to solutions. It points to a few success stories, such as the return of large mammals to Europe, and notes that the 15 percent of the Earth’s surface that is protected areas has likely slowed the fall of the index and contributed to the recovery of some species. But overall the picture it paints is pretty grim. And the fact that countries are clearly falling well short of stated commitments to halt the loss of biodiversity puts some recent encouraging political victories on combating climate change in perspective.