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For someone who says she hates politics, Michelle Obama is a political powerhouse

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She referred to him as “someone” the country had sent to the Oval Office. She spoke of the many failings of “this White House.” It was as if Trump was beneath serious discussion, unworthy of more than passing mention.

Finally, about midway through the 18-minute talk — by far the longest of the night — she called him out. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country…. He is clearly in over his head,” she said. “It is what it is.”

Surely not by coincidence, “it is what it is” are the very words Trump used in a recent interview to dismiss nearly 170,000 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus pandemic he so badly mishandled. It was epic shade.

Given the socially distanced nature of the convention, Obama spoke the way everyone speaks these days, alone in a well-decorated room facing a camera. Her tone was conversational, at times intimate; it was less an oration than a fireside chat. The format played well to her greatest strength: the ability to connect with an audience on a personal level.

The speech was less about Trump than about Trumpism — the chaos, the division and the “total and utter lack of empathy” that characterize his method of politics and governance. She warned that anyone who believes things cannot get worse is wrong. They can, she said.

“We have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” she said, and that means we have to be prepared to “stand in line all night” at the polls if necessary.

She had much praise for Biden’s experience, but even more for his character. “His life is a testament to getting back up,” she said. “And he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up — to help us heal and guide us forward.”

The job of a speaker on the first night of a national party convention is to inspire the faithful and set a tone for the rest of the week. Obama’s famous dictum, first pronounced at the 2016 Democratic convention — “When they go low, we go high” — mandates magnanimity and purpose. On a day when Trump tried to draw attention to himself by throwing red meat to his loyal base, painting Democrats as dangerous radicals who oppose law and order, Obama’s speech offered vivid contrast — and served as a corrective. No one can accuse her of being some sort of antifa-loving revolutionary.

“Going high” is still the only option, she cautioned Monday. If we go low, she warned, “we degrade ourselves.”

Earlier in the evening, a host of moderate Republicans addressed what they once would have considered the enemy camp, proclaiming their support of the Biden-Harris ticket. Former Ohio governor John Kasich said he is one lifelong Republican who will vote for Biden because “America is at a crossroads,” and he refuted the Trump campaign’s accusation that Biden will somehow be a puppet controlled by his party’s left wing. “No one pushes Joe Biden around,” he said.

A perhaps more impactful speech, in terms voter turnout, was given by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the patriarch of the party’s left wing. He said Trump is “leading us down the path of authoritarianism” and implored his supporters not to sulk but to enthusiastically vote for Biden. “Our movement continues and gets stronger every day,” he reassured them, highlighting the progressive planks of Biden’s platform. “The future of our planet is at stake.”

For years now, the conventions have actually been little more than ceremonial gatherings to ratify and showcase decisions already made by voters in the primaries — glitzy four-night extravaganzas aimed at a massive television audience. The covid-19 pandemic eliminated any pretense that this year’s conventions are anything but highly scripted political infomercials.

Speakers tonight had no crowd to rouse, no applause to draw energy from, no way to gauge how their orations were being received. They had no choice but to trust in the words themselves — and their ability to deliver those words convincingly, with authenticity and passion.

Standing before a multitude, Barack Obama is masterful at inspiring minds and moving hearts. Looking into a camera lens and speaking to people in the privacy of their homes, as she did tonight, Michelle Obama may be even better.

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Source:- The Washington Post

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End 'Wild West' for political ads, campaigners say – BBC News

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A surge in online political advertising spending during last year’s general election shows the need for greater transparency, campaigners say.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) estimated the three main UK-wide parties spent more than twice as much on online adverts as on 2017’s poll.

A lack of regulation was creating a “Wild West” in need of stronger oversight, it added.

The government called its efforts to reform advertising “world-leading”.

Last month, minsters published plans for a “digital imprint” on social media ads, promising “the same transparency” for voters as for election leaflets and posters.

The ERS welcomed these, but said they were “unlikely to be sufficient”.

In a report, the campaign group said providing more information to voters about political adverts online represented an “urgent challenge for democracy”.

It argued claims over their accuracy were becoming “increasingly prominent” online, where it was easier for pop-up campaigners, as well as established political parties, to influence debate.

The ERS added there had been “several high-profile examples of dishonest or misleading claims” across the political spectrum during the 2019 campaign.

It pointed out existing accuracy rules on commercial adverts did not extend to political campaigning, while donations laws provided only a “minimal” snapshot of how much parties spent online.

What did the report find?

  • The study, compiled by academics Katharine Dommett and Sam Power, estimated party spending using the transparency archives of social media firms
  • It found the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems combined spent around £6m campaigning on Facebook and just under £3m on Google
  • The analysis suggested the Conservatives spent comparatively more on Google, backing claims it sought to reach voters through YouTube
  • The researchers said 64 non-party groups had registered as official political campaigners for the election, with 46 registering after the poll was announced
  • They calculated a total of 88 non-party campaign groups placed 13,197 adverts on Facebook, at a combined cost of £2.7m

The report made recommendations requiring political campaigners to provide more detailed spending invoices more quickly after elections to the Electoral Commission, the UK’s elections watchdog.

It also urged parties to work with regulators and the advertising industry to develop a code of practice for political adverts.

The Electoral Commission says it does not have the power or resources to monitor the truthfulness of political advertising.

But it has previously echoed calls for greater transparency, adding in its review of the 2019 election that rules needed to be updated.

Constitution Minister Chloe Smith said: “People want to engage with politics online. That’s where campaigners connect with voters, so naturally political parties across the board are increasing their digital campaigning activity.

“This government is already making political campaigning more transparent for voters, with new, world-leading measures that will require campaign content promoted online to explicitly show who is behind it.”

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Democrats also play politics with Supreme Court seats – CNN

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Charlie Dent
Like her dear friend Justice Antonin Scalia, Ginsburg died in the final year of a president’s term, and this vacancy will ignite yet another epic Supreme Court battle . During the prolonged debate and discussion over the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016, I believed that then-President Barack Obama had the right to make the nomination in a presidential election year and that the Senate should have initiated the confirmation process.
Similarly, under the Constitution, President Donald Trump is well within his rights to make a nomination, and the Senate GOP is within theirs to move forward with the confirmation process now. However, Republicans are justifiably being criticized for hypocrisy. In many instances you can simply use the words of Republican Senators from four years ago against them now. Yes, this is a power play and it is all very cynical.
Nevertheless, if the shoe were on the other foot, with Democrats controlling both the Presidency and Senate under the same circumstances, they most assuredly would attempt fill a Supreme Court vacancy without hesitation and in record time. No one should be surprised the GOP will do everything within their power to fill this vacancy before the end of the year.
Democrats are predictably making hyperbolic and exaggerated statements about the impact of this Supreme Court fight, from overturning Roe v. Wade to stripping Americans of certain civil rights. We’ve heard all of this with past GOP Supreme Court nominations; it’s part of the Democratic playbook.
Obviously much of this rhetoric is aimed to motivate the Democratic base in the hopes of making electoral change. In this battle, the Democrats most persuasive attack will be on health care and the plight of people with pre-existing conditions should the Affordable Care Act be struck down, which was nearly overturned by the Supreme Court a few years ago with Justice Ginsburg as part of a majority in opposition.
To be clear, the tactic of weaponizing the politics of the Supreme Court is not new nor is it reserved to only one party. Republicans have for decades employed a fairly comprehensive strategy for building and maintaining the current conservative balance of the Court. One needs no further evidence then their reliance on outside groups like The Federalist Society to vet ideologically appropriate potential nominees.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have employed the politics of the personal destruction to tear down Republican nominees — starting with the rejection of Judge Robert Bork in 1987, to hardball tactics used against Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, respectively. The left attacked Bork mercilessly and declared him too extreme to be confirmed; they even turned Bork’s name into a verb. His nomination was defeated in the Democrat controlled Senate 58-42. President Reagan then nominated Anthony Kennedy who was confirmed unanimously.
It should be noted many Democrats and their allies said at the time that Kennedy would overturn Roe v. Wade. The same was said about virtually every other Republican Presidential Supreme Court nominee including swing votes Sandra Day O’Connor and John Roberts, as well as the liberal David Souter.
No, Republicans most assuredly do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy and cynicism. Nor have Democrats shied away from a bare knuckle, back alley fight when it comes to past Supreme Court nominations.
Although within their right to move forward, Senate Republicans would be wise to let the voice of the American people be heard in this confirmation process. Hastily moving forward under an artificial political deadline, in this case the election, may severely damage the credibility of the nomination process.
Politically, President Trump may benefit from this Supreme Court fight. Rather than discussing Trump’s botched Covid-19 response, absurd comments or his glaring unfitness to hold office, the narrative is about something both the GOP base and soft Trump voters care deeply and passionately — in 2016 exit polls, 56% of Trump voters said appointments were “the most important factor” in their vote.
Notwithstanding his inconsistent and contradictory statements on considering Supreme Court nominees in a presidential election year,
Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and who is locked in a tight reelection fight, likely benefits from this fight, too, in deep red South Carolina. Of course, Democrats will be further angered and energized by this fight as well to the detriment of swing state Republicans like Sens. Susan Collins, Cory Gardner and perhaps a few others in competitive elections.
Meanwhile, Democrats would be wise not to overreact with hyperbole and personal accusations, or extreme proposals like court packing, DC statehood, and impeachment. Instead, they should focus on putting pressure on Republican Senators and working to defeat President Trump at the ballot box.
Unless Democrats can find four GOP Senators to oppose Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, they will lose this battle. If they’re smart, they will use this potential defeat to mobilize their base and turn out their voters for the upcoming and future elections. In fact, Democratic prospects of winning the White House remain very favorable, and flipping several seats in the Senate is well within their reach.
Republicans appear poised to pick up another Supreme Court seat, but the fight is just beginning. If the vote on the nominee occurs before the election, what will the impact be on the presidential race, and swing state Republican senators? If a confirmation vote were to occur in the lame duck session, and Democrats were to turn the tables in the election by winning the Presidency and the Senate, will defeated Republican Senators vote to confirm the nominee under those circumstances? We’ll know soon enough.

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Don Martin: The prime minister talks turkey in a political address to the nation – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
What. Was. THAT??

A prime minister calling for time across Canadian airwaves is a BIG DEAL and thus very rarely done.

It’s not allowed to be political posturing. It’s supposed to be a five-alarm siren on a matter of national significance from a prime minister who believes urgent information must be fed directly into Canadian ears.

So what does Justin Trudeau do when his demand for 15 minutes of unedited access to the airwaves was granted under the assumption it NOT be political?

In that weird breathlessness he saves for his most dramatic conversations, Trudeau warned Canadians their Thanksgiving turkey is likely cooked by the coronavirus and they might as well cancel the family feast now. Then he dangled the faint hope of Christmas salvation IF we wear masks, download the government COVID-19 tracking app and get a flu shot.

That glum scenario hardly qualifies as news-bulletin material being released by a leader with unique insights to share. It barely rates as a news story, being the parroting of what public health officials have already said about the second wave being upon many of us.

And then Trudeau dived into an overtly-partisan listing of government actions already taken and those to come, provided the throne speech gets passed by Parliament.

It was political grandstanding masked as a public service message, a transparent and shallow attempt to paste Trudeau’s face over the throne speech highlight reel instead of leaving all the television clips to a disinterested reading by scandal-tainted Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

Not to be outdone with this flexing of prime ministerial power, Trudeau’s opposition rivals jumped on the free political advertising bandwagon with highly partisan televised reactions of their own.

Clearly the last week or two have given Canadians an ominous preview of COVID cases building into a tsunami-sized wave on case projection charts.

It’s an emerging emergency which could’ve justified a national address, provided Trudeau’s 6,000-word action plan had not been read to rapture-level media coverage just four hours earlier.

All he did in the prime-time address was echo the throne speech’s pandemic as priority one and repeat the ways his government will help millions of Canadians through the approaching winter of self-isolation discontent.

To be fair, the government did launch a flotilla of lifeboats aimed at keeping COVID-displaced Canadian workers, ravaged retailers, vulnerable seniors, disadvantaged women and daycare-dependent families afloat in the second wave. (The resulting deficits which will confront post-pandemic taxpayers are going to be truly staggering).

But to flesh it out with a hodgepodge of less-urgent, undelivered or oft-repeated priorities dilutes an agenda which should be almost solely fixated on the medical and economic trauma this country is facing.

For example, it’s a safe bet Canada will be two billion trees shy of the two billion trees this government again promised to plant in the Wednesday speech by the time we head to the polls. That and most of the other non-pandemic initiatives will be quickly moved to the back-burner.

But, getting back to the address, for Trudeau to graft his message onto the throne speech was blatant duplication for purely political purposes.

Trudeau and the other party leaders will get their opportunity for an official Hansard-recorded reaction to the throne speech in the House of Commons on Thursday.

What more Trudeau can say after his urgent national address the day before is hard to imagine, unless he’s about to scare off Hallowe’en as well.

Here’s hoping the next time Trudeau demands access to the nation’s airwaves, the networks will say his turkey was cooked in 2020 when he deemed a threat to Thanksgiving worthy of a national broadcast alert.

Then they should tell Trudeau they’ll wait and air his Christmas greeting instead.

That’s the bottom line.

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