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Vox Sentences: Ted Cruz unhinges his jaw and swallows his pride

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Son-of-a-JFK-assassin-accomplice Ted Cruz endorses pathological liar Donald Trump; the DOJ's war on science; it looks like Russia really is trying to meddle in the US election.


Humble pie. To the face.

Screenshot of disparaging tweet about Heidi Cruz from Trump @realDonaldTrump
  • Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump on Friday, in what has to be one of the more humiliating self-abnegations in modern electoral politics. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Just look at what Cruz said about Trump when the two were the last serious contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. He called Trump a "pathological liar" who was "utterly amoral." [The Telegraph / David Lawler]
  • Or, hell, look at what Trump did to Cruz. He insinuated the Canadian-born Cruz wasn't eligible to be president. He threatened to expose ugly secrets about Cruz's wife. He tied Cruz's father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy — and then brought it up again after winning the nomination. [CBS News / Sopan Deb and Jack Turman]
  • So ... whence the change of heart? The most high-minded explanation: Trump recently started calling for the US to retain control of the organization that hands out internet domain names, rather than letting it pass into international hands. It's a cause Cruz has championed for some time. [The Verge / Amar Toor]
  • The second most high-minded explanation: Trump just added a bunch more conservative jurists to his putative Supreme Court "shortlist" (now 21 people long), including Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the closest thing to a friend Cruz has in Washington. [Reuters / Steve Holland]
  • The less high-minded explanation: Republicans are in danger of losing the Senate this cycle, and Cruz hasn't been doing a lot to improve conservative voter enthusiasm. His reticence has been noticed. [Politico / Burgess Everett]
  • The most venal explanation: Cruz might have faced a Senate primary in 2018 if he hadn't endorsed. And RNC Chair Reince Priebus threatened earlier this week that Republican officeholders who didn't endorse Trump might not be allowed to run as Republicans in future. RedState / Dan Spencer]
  • Ultimately, though, nothing Ted Cruz does will change the underlying fact that 90 percent or more of people who come into contact with him think he is an untrustworthy egomaniac and hate him with the blinding hot rage of a thousand suns. [NY Mag / Caroline Bankoff]

Pattern clashing

Scientist looking at microscope Anya Semenoff/The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • Earlier this month, the White House put out a report recommending that law enforcement stop relying so much on "pattern-based" forensics (everything from bite mark analysis to fingerprint matching to some complex DNA work) until better standards are developed to ensure they aren't convicting people on junk science. [The Intercept / Jordan Smith]
  • Skepticism of pattern-based forensics has been around for a while. (This is a good summary of the state of the research on various forensic techniques, based on a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report.) [PBS / Jonathan Jones]
  • But the criminal justice system continues to treat "scientific evidence" as largely infallible. [Washington Post / Eugene Volokh]
  • The new White House report won't fix that. The Department of Justice has announced it's essentially ignoring the report and will continue to use pattern-based forensics if it so chooses. [WSJ / Gary Fields]
  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch is caving to prosecutors here. The National District Attorneys Association "slammed" the report (its own words): Unsurprisingly, NDAA thinks any tool that helps convict criminals has its place. [Salon / Daniel Denvir]
  • But we are literally talking about life and death here. Bad science can wrongfully lock someone up for 33 years — as happened to a man finally exonerated earlier in 2016 after having been convicted on the basis of spurious bite mark analysis. [PINAC / Ben Keller]
  • And on occasion, bad forensics can get people executed. [New Yorker / David Grann]

A Page out of Nixon's playbook?

Carter Page AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
  • So you know how there have been all these hacks of US government and Democratic Party servers over the past few years? [CNN / Evan Perez]
  • American officials are increasingly willing to name Russia, in public, as the culprit. (The leading Democrats on two key congressional committees put out a statement blaming Russia Thursday.) [AFP]
  • The statement said that Russia is probably trying to influence the US election. What it didn't say is what some US officials have told press anonymously: that Russia is trying to secure victory for Donald Trump. [The Daily Beast / Shane A. Harris and Nancy Youssef]
  • Now, on Friday, a Yahoo News article cites an unnamed intelligence official saying that Carter Page, an American businessman and Trump foreign policy adviser, met with a top Russian official during a July trip to Moscow — and that the US is investigating whether Page opened up backchannel communications on behalf of the Trump campaign. [Yahoo News / Michael Isikoff]
  • It is worth taking this allegation with a huge grain of salt. It's not verified, and even if there is an investigation, there are other things the Russian government could be discussing with Page — who has extensive business interests there.
  • But it wouldn't be that unprecedented, on a global scale, if Russia were trying to coordinate with Trump. It might even be poetic justice, given how often the US has meddled in other countries' elections. [Foreign Policy / J. Dana Shuster]
  • Heck, in 1968, then–Republican nominee Richard Nixon and campaign aide Henry Kissinger succeeded in scuttling peace talks between the US and Vietnam. [Politico Magazine / John Aloysius Farrell]

Miscellaneous

  • Northern Michigan University has been threatening students with disciplinary action for discussing suicidal thoughts with their friends. [NY Mag / Jesse Singal]
  • The fifth Transformers movie will feature both King Arthur and Hitler. And Hitler's headquarters in the movie will be Winston Churchill's real-life former home. Just top-grade filmmaking. [Pajiba / Courtney Enlow]
  • Let us now praise Super Mario 64. [A.V. Club / Matt Gerardi]
  • A big new study from the National Academies of Sciences confirms what a majority of economists have always held: Immigrants help the economy, and don't affect wages or employment for native-born Americans much at all. [WSJ / Jeffrey Sparshott]
  • Birtherism has actually gotten less popular since Trump became the Republican nominee. [NYT / Kyle Dropp and Brendan Nyhan]

Verbatim

  • "'She's lovable,' Haynes said of her dog Mia. 'She'll kill you with kindness.' Or in this case, a knife." [Tribune Media Wire]
  • "Hamsters aren’t the only animals associated with Kia’s new entry. There’s a wild boar, too — and he’s wearing a backpack." [NYT / Clifford Ghetti]
  • "His most personal work, Norbit, a psychodramatic outpouring of bile, pain, conflict, and sheer comedic invention, which Murphy starred in and wrote, deserved to be hailed as a masterwork." [New Yorker / Richard Brody]
  • "Well, you know, the republic is under siege by a moron, basically." [Bruce Springsteen to Rolling Stone / Brian Hiatt]
  • "Now you're probably thinking, 'Oh, Nicole, don't say that about yourself! Every body is a beautiful body!' That's a very nice thing for you to shout at me, but I already know that." [Hollywood Reporter / Nicole Byer]

Watch this: Democrats are in deep trouble — even if Hillary Clinton wins

Since Obama's election, the Democratic Party has been obliterated at the state level. [YouTube / Matt Yglesias and Joe Posner]

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