The Perfect Response To ‘Are Men Second-Class Citizens?’

May 4, 2016 by  
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You can spend a lifetime trying to find the perfect gif to deploy in response to sheer ignorance about women’s rights.

Today, we can thank Guardian Australia columnist Van Badham for supplying us with one.

The writer appeared on Australian morning show “Sunrise” on Saturday, where hosts were conducting a deep-dive into the ever-pressing topic, “Are men second-class citizens?”

The statement that prompted Badham’s eye roll of the century was “left feminism is essentially selfish.” Former Australian politician Mark Latham made that remark while trying to characterize Badham as only concerned about problems that affect educated, privileged women – even though she covers class inequality at The Guardian. (She also wrote a comprehensive response to Latham’s remarks, which you can read here.)

But her sublime expression is nothing if not versatile when confronting sexist idiocy.

For example:

“Why don’t you want kids?”

“Are you on your period?”

“Women are just voting for Hillary/Bernie because she’s a woman/they want boys to like them.”

“You’d be so much prettier if you smiled more.” 

Try it yourself! In the meantime, the entire segment can be viewed below:

The F-BOMB blows up on Weekend Sunrise https://t.co/CAaUE6Im85 #Sun7 https://t.co/L6W2tAKaql

— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) April 30, 2016

H/T Elle

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#NeverTrump Conservative Media Will Have To Decide If Never Means Never

May 3, 2016 by  
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NEW YORK — Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol seemed to shift Monday from #NeverTrump to #MaybeTrump. 

“On the one hand, I’ll say #NeverTrump,” the conservative writer and pundit told Newsmax, “and on the other hand, I’ll say never say never.”

Kristol tweeted that he was joking and reiterated his #NeverTrump stance, a position that could become increasingly more difficult for conservative media figures as the general election nears. It’s one thing to have joined the #NeverTrump bandwagon during the Republican primary, when there were legitimate conservative alternatives. But with Donald Trump expected to win the Indiana primary Tuesday night, and amid increasing calls for party unity in advance of the general election, conservative editors, columnists and TV pundits who have railed against the real estate mogul for months will be forced to decide if never really means never — especially if the alternative is Hillary Clinton. 

This week, former John McCain speechwriter Mark Salter and George Mason law professor David Bernstein went a step beyond #NeverTrump by saying they’d rather vote for Clinton. But it’s more likely that prominent anti-Trump voices will adopt the #NeverHillary stance in order to rationalize supporting Trump, or that they’ll end up backing neither the Republican nor the Democratic standard-bearer. 

This is a departure from recent election cycles. Both Arizona Sen. John McCain, in 2008, and Mitt Romney, in 2012, struggled to win over conservative writers and talkers during their respective primary fights. But when it came to the general election, the right’s media apparatus largely fell in line, boosting the Republican candidates and bashing Barack Obama. Though Trump, as nominee, would surely have the support of already sympathetic voices like Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Breitbart, he’d be unlikely to have the broad swath of conservative media in his corner – that is, if the #NeverTrump crowd doesn’t crack. 

“Obviously, I’m not going to turn into a Hillary Clinton supporter,” said Erick Erickson, an influential radio host, editor of the recently launched site, The Resurgent, and leading #NeverTrump voice.

Erickson said he could spend all his time on air covering Clinton stories during the general election, presuming she beats Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but indicated he wouldn’t ignore the likely Republican nominee’s missteps in a two-person race. ”Trump’s going to do dumb stuff on the campaign trail, and I’ll certainly talk about that as well,” he said. 

Conservative hosts are “obviously not going to be on board with Hillary Clinton and will spend a lot of time highlighting problems with her, but I don’t know if they’re going to actively lift a finger to help Donald Trump,” he added. Erickson said he, for one, wouldn’t. 

In May 2012, Romney met with dozens of conservative journalists and pundits after becoming the Republican party’s presumptive nominee, in an effort to shore up his conservative media flank. Erickson doesn’t believe a similar meeting between Trump and his ardent critics now would be as effective. 

“I think the dynamic is different this time,” Erickson said. “Because by and large, it comes down more to a character thing than a policy thing with Trump for so many of his critics. … I didn’t like McCain or Romney, and held my nose to vote for them, but didn’t doubt they were good people. The overwhelming criticism of Trump from the right is that he’s just not fit for office, regardless of policy positions. So I don’t know how you get people in the room and convince them that somehow you are fit for office.”

Matt Lewis, a prominent conservative columnist, author and TV commentator, suggested he couldn’t be swayed, either. 

“I think that the real danger is Trump basically redefines what it means to be a conservative and he’ll turn the Republican party into a basically right-wing, white identity politics, populist, protectionist party,” Lewis said. “For me, I can’t do it.”

Lewis said he’d respect a Trump critic’s decision to support the nominee, but it would depend on their motivation during the primary. For instance, a pundit arguing Trump was a poor choice because of his policy positions could understandably come around if they believe Trump’s now receiving better counsel or has modified his views. But Lewis said he’d take issue with a critic who argued Trump was a racist, demagogue and authoritarian and then suddenly began supporting him. 

“That’s discordant and it … leads people to at least question whether your principles are that strong and if this is not a matter of expediency,” Lewis said. “Its sort of a collaboration with your new conquerors.” (He likened such an abrupt change of heart to “Simpsons” newsman Kent Brockman welcoming his “insect overlords” after believing giant ants were headed toward Earth). 

Lewis noted that the priorities of the TV business could prompt some conservative commentators to eventually side with Trump. That’s because cable bookers planning a one-on-one political slugfest may seek a Republican counterpart willing to give a full-throated defense of his or her party’s nominee. 

“If one person is drinking the Democratic Kool Aid and just likes Hillary Clinton to the hilt, and you’re like, ‘Well, Hillary’s not great, but I also think Donald Trump’s wrong about his protectionist policies,’ you’re not really representing the Republican side and it’s not going to be great TV,” he said. 

Conservative radio host Charlie Sykes, who grilled Trump in the days leading up to his loss in the Wisconsin primary, said “it’s going to be very, very difficult” for conservative critics of Trump in the media. Still, Sykes isn’t waffling, and on Tuesday morning, tweeted that he remains squarely in the #NeverTrump camp. 

I suppose I should clarify: #NeverTrump means I will nevereverunderanycircusmtances vote for @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/wJ94GgjKX5

— Charles Sykes (@SykesCharlie) May 3, 2016

“#NeverTrump means never, I mean, never in hell,” he told HuffPost. “Maybe we need to change it to #TrumpNFW.”

Sykes said the challenge for conservative hosts is that they’re going to have to critique the Democratic nominee, and yet “a lot of the things the Democrats are going to say about Donald Trump are exactly the kind of things that we’ve been saying about Donald Trump.”

Sykes said a Trump nomination may lead him to talk more in the coming months about downballot races, or he joked, the Green Bay Packers.

However, Sykes said there’s a liberating quality to being what he described as “hard #NeverTrump” versus the “soft #NeverTrump” conservative who could still be swayed to back him in the general election. 

“I think that’s going to be brutal,” he said of the latter. “If you know who Donald Trump is and you have to carry water for the guy, what fresh hell. Whereas, I’m like, hey, I don’t have a dog in this hunt, I’m an honest broker. I can tell you exactly what I think.”

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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Center For Public Integrity Lays Off Two Reporters Amid Restructuring

May 2, 2016 by  
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The Center for Public Integrity laid off two reporters Friday and will not immediately fill three budgeted positions in what the nonprofit investigative outlet’s top executive described as a newsroom restructuring.

CEO Peter Bale said the staff reduction is the result of financial pressures and as part of an effort to increasingly focus on core operations like data journalism and visualization. Bale, who joined from CNN International in late 2014, said that the Center’s budget for 2015 was $9.3 million. This year it is a little over $8 million.

“We expect to raise all the needed resources for the current fiscal year and have a strong pipeline with donors,” he said. 

The Center, founded in 1989 to produce journalism in the public interest, won its first Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for an investigation on coal miners dying from black lung disease. 

The cutbacks come just a month after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center, helped reveal how some of the world’s most powerful people conceal their wealth, in a massive leak of documents known as the Panama Papers. The ICIJ, with a global network of journalists, worked with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and over 100 news organizations on the scoop. 

Bale said there aren’t any cuts planned for ICIJ, though three proposed and budgeted positions will not be immediately filled. Bale said the Center is still recruiting for a senior-level data journalist to join its staff. 

The Center now has 40 staff journalists, following Friday’s two layoffs. The laid off journalists, senior reporter David Heath and data reporter Alexander Cohen, have had distinguished careers at the Center and other news outlets. 

Heath, a three-time Pulitzer finalist, won five national journalism awards since joining the Center in 2010, according to his staff bio. He previously worked for The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, and The Seattle Times, where he co-authored a series on cancer research that won several awards, including Harvard University’s Goldsmith Prize and the George Polk award.

Cohen was a member of the Center’s investigative team that won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for a 2004 series on the politics of oil. He worked as chief investigator for nonprofit Public Citizen during the 2008 election and Reuters’ campaign data reporter during the 2012 election before rejoining the Center the following year. Though Cohen specializes in data, a continued area of focus for the Center, the position he held on the national security team was cut as part of the restructuring. 

Heath confirmed he was laid off, but declined to comment further. Cohen didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Disclosure: The Huffington Post has partnered with The Center for Public Integrity in the past. The Huffington Post Media Group president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington is a member of the Center’s board of directors. 

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After 2016, Will Personality Plus Message = POTUS? President Maddow in 2024?

May 1, 2016 by  
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LISTEN HERE:

Underestimating Trump, Shrum/Christie/Green prognosticate again post-primaries: Will great persona + viral message be ticket for future presidents? Will reactionary GOP reconstitute after realigning loss? Will Trump put bully Christie in VP pulpit or go nuclear with Knight? Should no-drama Hillary choose a guy to help with guys or win with Warren?

Presumptive Trump? Bob and Ron agree that unless Cruz thinks of something even more head-turning than Fiorina — maybe nominating a successor to Scalia’s seat? — the GOP race and #nevertrump are effectively over. It’s kneel Zod time.

Can Trump be “sooo presidential,” as he promised? Based on his foreign policy address this week, the panel doubts it. They agree with Charles Krauthammer that his scripted, tele-prompted speech was as wandering, hollow and confused as his off-the-cuff rants.

Can his repeated technique of “assertion” that persuades credulous people by creating reality — we’ll destroy ISIS! Obama-Clinton a weak disaster! great trade deals! — convince not only 40 percent of Republican primary voters but also some Independents and Democrats in the Fall? Bob and Ron laugh. “He thinks being unpredictable is a good way to work with our allies? And how’d that work for Nixon in Vietnam after 1968?”

His Veep? Might he just “go it alone” as Gene Robinson joked? Ron predicts that choosing Kasich would be smart but his friend the Governor would never do it. Then he speculates about Rubio, Haley, CChristie. Shrum says most credible Rs would shun him knowing s/he would be on a ticket to nowhere.

Last, would this time the GOP seriously reevaluate its strategies after losing the popular vote for the 6th out of seven tries? Ron hopes so because the party’s survival depends on it, but he doubts it. “The had eight years under Obama to reach out to minorities and woman and didn’t. He wants his party to start dealing again with Democrats to get things done but can’t suggest how since today any compromise assures a Tea Party primary opponent.

Shrum concurs that the GOP is sharply divided into ideologues and realists, with the former having the upper hand. How’d that happen — Obama Derangement Syndrome, Right-Wing Talk Radio, a party weighed down by Southern ‘lost causists’? He explains all that with JFK’s famous Inaugural metaphor, “He who rides the back of tiger ends up inside.” Party leaders rode the Tea Party to off-year wins in 20 and 2014 but are now being devoured by them.

Host: This is a party with the fringe on the bottom. For a longer analysis what that means for November and the next decade, see last chapter of BrightInfiniteFuture.net — “Economy & Democracy: The Progressive Majority vs. The Fringe Fourth” — coming out the first week of May.

Presumptive Clinton? Why did Clinton end up prevailing only 55-45 over Sanders in voters and delegates when the opening line was more like 75-25? There’s agreement again — that his message really penetrated and she made unforced errors, like her email server and Wall Street speeches.

Bob lauds her primary night remarks in turn lauding Sanders and his voters as a smart way of getting 90 percent of her party to support her ticket. But given Trump’s campaign of insults and apostasy, Bob doubts that the GOP will even get to 80 percent of Republicans.

We discuss how Clinton would be smart to combine her victory with much of Sanders’s program. Bob assumes that she could choose Senator Warren as VP but it’s unlikely given he need to shrink the opposition of angry white men. Where will Millennials — who are more numerous than Boomers and who voted for Sanders 80-20 and for Obama 75-25 in 2012 — go? Christie praises a Paul Ryan town hall of Millennials at his school Georgetown and thinks they’re open to a GOP message on entitlements and spending. But Shrum is confidant that they’ll swing hard to the Democratic ticket when faced with Trump’s craziness and party’s anti-gay stance.

Host: Earlier election cycles lead to new strategies and candidates, like McGovern’s mailing list, Carter’s border southern appeal, Dean’s use of the internet. But the astounding success of Trump’s personality in his party and Sanders’s viral message raising scores of millions may re-shape POTUS politics for a generation. Can say some dynamic professor, author, athlete, TV broadcaster with a sticky message leap over the usual cadre of governors and senators to compete and win? Maddow vs. Scarborough in 2024?

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Watch Larry Wilmore Make Everyone Nervous At The 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

May 1, 2016 by  
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Comedian Larry Wilmore brought his A-game while hosting the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

He cracked plenty of jokes about President Barack Obama and other politicians, and had lots of sharp one-liners about the media.

Watch his full speech above.

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Bill Maher Reveals ’25 Things You Don’t Know’ About Bernie Sanders

April 30, 2016 by  
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Last week, Bill Maher revealed “25 Things You Don’t Know” about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The ”Real Time with Bill Maher” host spoofed how the Republican presidential candidate may reply to the Us Weekly magazine’s segment.

It was in response to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance in the publication.

On Friday night, in the interest of “equal time,” Maher did it again — and this time mocked up how Clinton’s rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would respond to the questions.

This week, @BillMaher shares some fun facts about #BernieSanders from an upcoming issue (wink, wink) of @usweeklypic.twitter.com/GMb9HbbnB2

— Real Time (@RealTimers) April 30, 2016

Maher unleashed some hilarious one-liners, including Sanders purportedly revealing how he was the “only candidate who uses a typewriter to Tweet” and had something his wife referred to as “Resting Kvetch Face.”

Check out the clip above to find out what else was included in the list.

And below you can see how Maher spoofed Cruz’s answers on last week’s show:

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Who Is To Blame for President Trump?

April 29, 2016 by  
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Image courtesy Michael Vadon – Wiki Commons

As it has become increasingly apparent that Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for the Presidency (and quite possibly the next President of the United States), the blogosphere (and mediasphere (if that is a word)) has been filled with self-flagellation and self-recrimination by journalists saying, in essence, ‘we did it’.

What they did, and continue to do, was to give Donald Trump vast amounts of publicity, the lifeblood of any campaign, and, apparently, nearly $1.9b worth of free air time.

Is it any wonder that millions have flocked to the polls to vote for him? He’s all over TV all the time. You vote for that which is familiar.

But is this some kind of recent ‘failing’ of journalism? Reading Nicholas Kristof NY Times piece, “My Shared Shame:The Media Helped Make Donald Trump” or Politico’s “Did We Create Donald Trump“, you would think that the simple solution was that the media should either have ignored Trump or been harder on him.

Nonsense.

The television news business is a business (and so are newspapers). The idea here is to sell advertising, first and last. And advertising responds to big audiences. The bigger the audience, the more you can charge. That’s all there is to it. And Donald Trump was and is a ratings magnet. He is vastly entertaining, and that is why he is going to be the next President of the United States – not because Nick Kristof or CNN gave him lots of air time (they could not stop themselves), but rather because he is far better television than Hillary Clinton.

The coming election (like all that has proceeded it) has nothing to do with ‘issues’. (Who really cares about who uses what bathroom). It is all about who is the most entertaining – the most fun to watch. That’s what drives the ratings and that’s what will drive the election in the end.

Look, we are a nation that spends an astonishing 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. That’s what we do. In a way, it’s the foundation and basis of American culture. We have also been doing this for the past 40 years. It’s like we have all been part of a vast sociological experiment.
What happens when you put 300 million people in front of a TV set for 5 hours a day, every day, for their whole lives. Does it have an effect? Of course it does. We crave amusement.

And now we have it.

Look at the ‘myth’ of journalism. Journalists like to believe that they are delivering important information that people need. Nonsense! Watch local news some night. The lead story (if it bleeds it leads) is generally about some random shooting or some fire somewhere. Now, exactly how much impact does that random shooting or the fire have on you, (the viewer). Would none (unless you are the poor bastard who was shot or whose house burned down), be the right answer?

But it leads the news because… like slowing down to watch a car wreck… we like it.
It rates.

Well, Donald Trump is that car wreck. He rates.

Hillary does not rate.

Hillary is crap TV.

She may be smarter, better informed, know foreign policy better, know domestic policy better… who cares. Boring!

Trump is more fun to watch.

Trump rates. Hillary does not.

This election is going to be like Kim Kardashian vs. Judy Woodruff.

Who do you think is going to win that one?

This has nothing to do with ‘news’ or ‘journalists’.

Donald Trump is who we are… or who we have become.

As previously published in TheVJ.com

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Curt Schilling Says ESPN Has ‘Some Of The Biggest Racists’ On Air

April 28, 2016 by  
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Curt Schilling has no problem burning bridges.

Schilling, the Hall of Fame-aspiring pitcher with what many see as Hall of Shame opinions, played hardball with former employer ESPN during a radio interview.

In a conversation with the conservative “Breitbart News Patriot Forum” that aired Thursday morning, Schilling said ESPN features “some of the biggest racists in sports commentating.”

“Some of the most racist things I’ve ever heard have come out of people that are on the air at ESPN,” he said in the clip above.

Schilling was fired by the network last week for sharing an offensive Facebook post critical of a North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use the restroom of their birth gender. He was previously suspended for tweeting about Nazis and Muslim extremists.

“It was apparent to me early on that if you wanted to go off-topic as a sports person you had to go off-topic left, or you were going to get in trouble,” Schilling said on the show.

Asked afterward to elaborate on his comments, Schilling referenced ESPN personalities Stephen A. Smith and Tony Kornheiser, Newsday reported.

“You listen to Stephen A. Smith, and Stephen A. Smith was the guy who said that Robert Griffin didn’t play quarterback for the Redskins because he’s black,” Schilling told Newsday. “No, Robert Griffin didn’t play quarterback for the Redskins because he [stunk].

” … Tony Kornheiser compared the Tea Party to ISIS. I don’t know any planet where those are sports topics. But I don’t care. It’s OK. I think those conversations need to happen. But as soon as you go to the flip side, the right side, there are repercussions for not talking about sports.”

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Asking A Comedian To Be Your Guest Host Is No Laughing Matter

April 27, 2016 by  
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When Gary Garver asked comedian Dave Shelton to be a reoccurring guest on his KCAA Morning Show which airs in the Riverside/ San Bernardino area, he didn’t anticipate getting sued for it, but that’s exactly what happened and it was no laughing matter.

In one of the most curious entertainment cases in recent memory, Gary Garver, formally of the Howard Stern Show and the host of KCAA’s “Controlled Chaos” Morning Show faced off against comedian Dave Shelton at the People’s Court in Stanford Connecticut in January of this year. The episode will air on Thursday May 5th 2016.

Shelton originally filed the case in Los Angeles against Gary Garver and also against Fred Lundgren, the station’s CEO. Shelton claimed he had been promised compensation for his appearances on Garver’s Morning Show. Garver and Lundgren insisted that no such promises were made and that Mr. Shelton’s appearances on KCAA provided publicity for the comedian that was equal to the value of his performances and making such trades are the standard exchange for radio appearances.

The People’s Court heard about the case and asked that it be remanded to their jurisdiction. The LA Court approved the change in venue after all parties agreed to abide by The People’s Court decision.

Legally, a decision of “The People’s Court” is like binding mediation. The best part about the outcome of the “trial” is that all travel expenses are paid and regardless of who wins, the Court pays the settlement.

Shelton sued Garver and Lundgren for $10,000.00, but with the TV Court’s intervention, there was no way to lose which made it easy to trust the good judgement of the most Honorable Judge Marilyn Malian.

It was an amazing event. Think of going into mediation and knowing that regardless of the outcome, the mediator pays! From our perspective, it was an expression of jurisprudence at its best.

Shelton and Garver traveled to the People’s Court in Stamford, Connecticut on January 20th 2016, where the case was tried and decided.

On the same day as the trial, Fred Lundgren appeared Pro Se before the California Labor Commission to defend KCAA on a labor grievance filed by Shelton in the same matter. Lundgren was successful in getting that case dismissed with prejudice.

To find out who prevailed in this comedic People’s Court case, watch the May 5th episode entitled “Ripping Off A Radio Star”.

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Check your local listings for broadcast times in your area.

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Get Ready For The Veepstakes, Everybody!

April 26, 2016 by  
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For all we argue which American presidents were successful and which were failures, one has to be impressed with the glowing achievements of American vice presidents. Whenever a president is dead, or being driven from office, the vice president must rise to the occasion, and be not-dead, and not-being-driven-from-office. In this regard, our vice presidents have assembled a glowing track record of sustained excellence.

Who will be the next man or woman to add their name to this legend? This is a matter that the media has suddenly begun to take up in earnest, perhaps sensing that this year’s primary elections are now more or less decided, and it’s time to now move to the next chapter of the story of this election — the one in which the media ponders what’s at stake in the choosing of a running mate in a race to find out which pundit can overthink it the most.

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign had “begun extensive discussions” about her running mate. The paper’s headline notes that the campaign is “cautious but confident,” probably because some spokesperson said, “We are cautious but confident.” I don’t know how you are supposed to fact-check this, but there you go: They are neither reckless nor terrified.

Many names found themselves to be afloat in the Times’ reporting. Because Clinton has envisioned her presidential mission as one of “barrier-breaking,” in which the nation’s economic ends are met by encouraging a continuing diversification of elite aeries, some of those names are Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Massachusetts Gov.r Deval Patrick, and Obama administration Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who worked for the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.

As the media will make much of Clinton’s need to appeal to working-class white men (and people with more limited connections to Massachusetts), many of the people named are also white guys: Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

In case you were wondering, yes, Clinton would be open to running with another woman on the ticket. One can easily imagine that this might be the sort of thing that the media could get a little overexcited about, and not necessarily to good purposes. A distant early warning of how that might be received came over the weekend, when former Obama communications director Anita Dunn was asked if Hillary Clinton really could pick another woman as her vice president, as if there was some legal obstacle preventing this arrangement. Dunn replied, “There is some precedent for having a running mate of the same gender.” Bu-bu-bu-but, penises?

According to The Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, the veep-game is afoot in GOP circles as well. The campaigns of John Kasich and Ted Cruz have apparently already begun their vetting processes, which seems pretty premature, when you consider the delegate count in that race. They report that the man atop the delegate count, Donald Trump, has given the matter some “serious thought,” but has not made it a focus of his campaign, which seems pretty tardy, when you consider the delegate — you get the idea.

The results of Trump’s vice-presidential ministrations are going to be of enormous interest, given the fact that he has a) cast himself as an outsider-basher of the establishment and yet b) desperately needs some insider-establishment type to explain to him basic things, like what a president does, and how Congress works. At the moment, Trump is still getting up to speed on what a “delegate” is, so it’s understandable that he’s lagging in the Veepstakes. 

Trump’s vice-presidential pick will also be a person of interest, in that once Trump discovers that the presidency is a low-prestige job that involves constant criticism, unending demands, and the congenital inability to get Congress to agree to the executive branch vision, there’s a good chance he’ll just quit, leaving his running mate with the bag.

But I have to give Trump some credit: I’ve never heard a president talk about what’s at stake in the choosing of a vice president with greater realism. As The Washington Post reports:

Trump, who said he wants to pick an experienced political leader, may calculate that he needs a bridge to mainstream Republicans who see his candidacy as radioactive.

“There are two advantages: They can help you with the system, and the politicians have been vetted,” Trump said in the interview. “That’s the biggest advantage to a politician – their whole life they’ve been vetted and you know everything, whereas if I pick some guy out of a great corporation who has done a job, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Besides demonstrating that they can draw breath and circulate blood, that’s literally all a vice president brings a ticket — a surfeit of institutional knowledge and, hopefully, a past free of scandal. There are literally no further advantages a vice-presidential prospect can bring to the ticket.

Unfortunately for all of us, the Veepstakes is essentially a long-winded exercise in determining how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If we are at the beginning stage of the Running Of The Running Mates, that means we have a staggering number of hours to endure, in which prospective candidates are hefted for demographic advantages and probed for home-state benefits.

Can the right candidate deliver a larger share of voters from a swing state? Could a certain candidate help maximize turnout from some voting bloc? We are at the precipice of these possibilities being picked to death by pundits eager to battle their colleagues in their traditional game of Sunday morning panel one-upsmanship.

So let’s head all of that off at the pass. The home state of the vice-presidential pick? Their ethnicity? Their gender? Their religion? None of that matters. That needle won’t jump. You can stop fretting about it.

Over at The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Christopher J. Devine and Kyle C. Kopko break out all the relevant research on the matter of vice-presidential prestidigitation, and their overarching conclusion is that it more or less fails to amount to a hill of beans, provided that the presidential candidate remembers to literally not choose an actual hill of beans as their partner-in-crime. (Which, to be honest, is too bad. I for one would vastly prefer to hear what Hill Of Beans has to say about the state of contemporary politics and its preferred policy platform than I would, say … Carly Fiorina.)

Does the right vice-presidential candidate offer the ticket a home-state advantage? According to Devine and Kopko, in some limited instances, when the vice-presidential pick “comes from a relatively less populous state and has served that state for many years as an elected official,” it can. This benefit is then immediately offset by the fact that “less-populous states have very few electoral votes, thus making them unlikely to flip the outcome in the Electoral College.”

Other than that, the home-state benefit is straight-up tugging at ghosts: “No matter the empirical method,” they write, “we consistently find that the vice- presidential home state advantage is, statistically speaking, zero.”

What about the idea that diversity on the ticket might bring a greater share of some demographic subgroup’s favor on Election Day? There, the science is incomplete, as there are no real-world examples of a major party selecting a Latino (or an African-American, or an Asian-American) as their vice-presidential candidate. But in analyzing “the performance of some other would-be breakthrough candidates” — such as Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, and Joe Lieberman — the relevant political science indicates that these choices result in some positive feelings toward these picks from voters who share their demographic identity.

But that’s as far as it goes. Per Devine and Kopko:

But again, more positive feelings toward the running mate do not necessarily translate into more votes. Controlling for a range of relevant covariates (such as age, income, party identification), gender is not a statistically significant predictor of vote choice in 1984 or 2008. Nor is Catholic identification in 1972, 1984, 2008 or 2012. The one exception is in 2000, when Jewish voters were significantly more likely to vote for the Gore/Lieberman ticket. But in a subsequent pooled analysis of presidential vote choice, Jewish respondents to the ANES proved to be significantly more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate in each presidential election since 1960. Further analysis shows that Jews didn’t feel more warmly toward Lieberman than toward the average Democratic running mate. So it’s not clear that Lieberman’s candidacy actually brought more Jewish votes to the 2000 Democratic ticket.

So, that’s a dead end as well.

Recently, the U.S. News and World Report’s Susan Milligan reported on the work of a “bipartisan team of veteran campaign managers and political historians,” who took up the task of evaluating how to pick the perfect vice president for the Bipartisan Policy Center. The way Milligan distills these experts’ ideal process into a series of steps basically boils down to this:

  1. Take a deep breath, and come up with some names.

  2. Vet their public records.

  3. Narrow the choices and vet them again, this time taking an “‘intrusive’ look at the contenders’ personal lives, including medical and financial matters that could be embarrassing to the ticket.”

  4. Tell your prospects to their faces what you found out and browbeat them into revealing if there’s anything that was not “unearthed but which could come out in the media.”

  5. Make a choice and then pray you did your due diligence and that you didn’t pick a liar.

Based upon Milligan’s reporting, the impaneled experts didn’t have anything to say about whether it’s necessary to find the right guy to help you swing Wisconsin, or the pick that’s got the magic touch to bringing out, say, more Asian-Pacific islanders to the polls. The process of picking a vice president is nothing more than a brutal, medieval endoscopy into the personal and political lives of people with whom you might spend the most important years of your political career. Hopefully, you find someone who survives that process, after which, you can simply just be hopeful that you, too, survive.

Still, this idea that the right vice-presidential pick might confer some sort of hidden electoral advantage — like they’re some walking political cheat-code — is a compelling story. And it’s understandable why a campaign would like to indulge in this sort of stagecraft. After all, what the selection is really all about is finding someone to fill a rather macabre political role who doesn’t load down the ticket with a bunch of dreadful liabilities. At the end of that process, you don’t want to have to talk about the intensity or the intrusiveness of the vetting process. So, hey, instead, come up with a fun story about how your running mate is someone who has hidden, ineffable strengths. 

Maybe such spin is silly. Still, like I said from the outset, this system has worked beautifully: All of our vice presidents have successfully performed the task of remaining a living, breathing vessel of human consciousness, and none have revealed themselves to be the Zodiac Killer, not even Spiro Agnew, although it was pretty touch-and-go there for a while.

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Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

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