The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.


The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

You'll want to supersize this one:


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

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The Commentariat -- October 26, 2016


Presidential Race

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Colin L. Powell, the Republican former secretary of state, said on Tuesday that he planned to vote for Hillary Clinton for president as he condemned her rival, Donald J. Trump, at an event on Long Island.... Mr. Powell went on to praise Mrs. Clinton for her skills as a leader and her experience.... The comments were a change from Mr. Powell’s tone in hacked emails from his inbox that were made public in September. In the emails, Mr. Powell criticized Mr. Trump but also expressed bitterness at Mrs. Clinton for repeatedly pointing to Mr. Powell’s email habits to explain away her own use of a private email server while she ran the State Department." -- CW 

More Lies. Guess Who? . 'I can say that all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare,' Trump said. 'What they're going through with their health care is horrible because of Obamacare, so we'll repeal it and replace it.'

In a telephone interview with Fox News shortly after his Doral event Tuesday morning, Trump seemed to misunderstand how the Affordable Care Act works, telling his interviewers that 'I don’t much use Obamacare, I must be honest with you, because it is so bad for the people and they can’t afford it.' But employer-provided health care is wholly separate from Obamacare insurance, which is designed to offer health plans to Americans who do not get insurance from their job. Trump said of Obamacare, 'We don’t use it. So you know, when they interviewed those people, they’re happy with their health coverage.'” CW: That is, even after the Doral manager corrected him about the type of policies the resort's employees have, Trump still had no fucking idea what he was talking about. Also, how hilarious is it that after "testifying" a few minutes earlier to his employees' horrible suffering under ObamaCare, Trump said his employees were "happy with their health coverage," which I guess we can hereinafter describe as TrumpyCare.

Donald Trump’s employees are having a 'tremendous problem' with health plans they don’t actually have. Trump himself doesn’t make much use of a health plan that he also doesn’t have. And all of this is a 'disaster' for the American people. Confused? Don’t worry. So is Mr. Trump.... Addressing [the] challenges [healthcare coverage still has] will require a robust understanding of multiple health care markets, how they interact with a slew of government programs, and how the law can be tweaked without setting off new problems with scary names like an 'adverse selection death spiral.' Meanwhile, Donald Trump does not appear to know the first thing about how Obamacare works." -- CW 

Two weeks from Election Day, a number of battleground states are still fighting over voting laws and whether voters have been adequately informed about an array of changing and sometimes complex rules. An unprecedented number of states have put stricter election laws in place since the last presidential race. And in several cases, those laws were overturned by the courts or are still caught up in litigation, creating the potential for widespread confusion. In some states, such as North Carolina, the rules in place during the primary races have changed for the general election. A federal court in Texas has ordered the state to reissue voter education materials that were misleading to residents. And in the Texas county that includes Fort Worth, voting rights advocates pointed to an email from Republican officials warning election workers in 'Democrat-controlled' polling locations 'to make sure OUR VOTER ID LAW IS FOLLOWED.'” -- CW 

Other News & Views

Jeet Heer of the New Republic: The "Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals [who are] all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.... Trump’s anti-democratic rhetoric — and the eagerness of so many good, white patriotic Americans to cheer it and believe it — is a symptom of the larger trend on the political right toward doubting the legitimacy of the American system." Read on. -- CW 

     ... CW: You know you miss him already.

n terse and often testy questioning, prosecutors Tuesday challenged Bridget Anne Kelly's explanations for the incriminating emails that pulled her into the 2013 lane closure scandal at the George Washington Bridge. By turns defiant and at times near tears, Kelly insisted that the e-mails and text messages were at times a 'totally poor choice of words,' but were written quickly as banter amid what she thought was a legitimate traffic study at the bridge.  She also contradicted the testimony of several prosecution witnesses.... Kelly said she went to [Gov. Chris] Christie a second and third time after the lane closures were put in play and [Fort Lee Mayor MarK] Sokolich suggested in messages to [then-Port Authority deputy director Bill] Baroni and to representatives of her office that he believed he was a victim of retribution. The governor told her to let [Port Authority employee David] Wildstein handle it, she said." -- CW ... 


The Commentariat -- October 25, 2016

 Afternoon Update

More Lies. Guess Who? Donald Trump Screams About Obamacare. . 'I can say that all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare,' Trump said. 'What they're going through with their health care is horrible because of Obamacare, so we'll repeal it and replace it.'

Presidential Race

Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump each launched fresh attacks against the other on Monday, signaling that harshly negative closing arguments may dominate the final two weeks of the campaign. Clinton’s campaign tried to build on its case that Trump doesn’t respect women, while Trump again questioned the integrity of the election process — this time asserting that polls showing Clinton ahead across the country are 'phony' and 'rigged.'” -- CW 

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Weaponizing a debate-stage insult that has become a rallying cry for female supporters of Hillary Clinton, Senator Elizabeth Warren let fly a stern, swaggering warning on Monday to Donald J. Trump: 'Nasty women vote.' In a blistering rebuke of Mr. Trump, with Mrs. Clinton seated and smiling onstage beside her [in Manchester, N.H.,], Ms. Warren took furious aim at the Republican nominee’s personal and political record, ticking off his history of disparaging remarks during the election and reminding the crowd of the many accusations of sexual assault against him. 'He thinks that because he has a mouthful of Tic Tacs that he can force himself on any woman within groping distance,' Ms. Warren said, alluding to Mr. Trump’s invocation of the breath freshener in a 2005 clip that found him boasting about forcing himself on women." -- CW ...

New Jersey Star-Ledger Editors: "Clinton's sins are venial, and her flaws, as former Gov. Christie Whitman [R] put it, are within the norm in American politics. She has done nothing remotely illegal, and her paranoia may be largely explained by the baseless charges of her overheated critics. After several investigations into the deaths in Benghazi, Republicans hunting for Hillary's scalp came away with a whole lot of nothing. Trump's vow to throw her in prison is an unnerving reminder of his scorn for Constitutional restraint. In fact, we endorse Hillary Clinton not just because Trump is such a scary alternative, but because she is ready for this job, in experience and temperament. Her flaws are outweighed by her virtues, and it's not a close call." -- CW 

Amy Chozick & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "With polls and early voting data signaling that Mrs. Clinton is likely to prevail against Mr. Trump in two weeks, liberal Democrats are already looking past Election Day — and relying on [Elizabeth] Warren to become the thorn in chief in Mrs. Clinton’s side, scrutinizing her appointments and agenda. Mrs. Clinton has vowed that if elected she will work across the aisle with congressional Republicans, but relations with liberals, including Ms. Warren of Massachusetts and Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, could prove quite contentious." -- CW ...

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Sen. Bernie Sanders, a loyal soldier for Hillary Clinton since he conceded the Democratic presidential nomination in July, plans to push liberal legislation with like-minded senators with or without Clinton’s support if she is elected — and to aggressively oppose appointments that do not pass muster with the party’s left wing. In an interview, Sanders said he and other senators have started plotting legislation that would achieve many of the proposals that fueled his insurgent run for president, including a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public college, an end to 'mass incarceration' and aggressive steps to fight climate change." -- CW 

By Driftglass.John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump warned Monday that his candidacy represents 'the kind of change that arrives only once in lifetime' and launched scattershot attacks against ... Hillary Clinton. 'She lies more than any human being,' Trump said of Clinton during a raucous rally in Tampa, his final stop during a day of campaigning in Florida, a must-win state for him.... During his evening rally in Tampa, Trump pointed toward the assembled press and said: 'These people are among the most dishonest people in the world, the media. They’re trying to fix the election for Crooked Hillary.'” -- CW 

Nikita Vladimirov of the Hill: "Donald Trump on Monday claimed he has been 'conceptually' endorsed by the military, despite the large number of military figures who have denounced him." CW: By "conceptually," I guess he means, "I think -- or wish it -- it; therefore it's true." 

It's Okay to Sexually Assault a Porn Star (But I'll Just Say I Didn't). Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "Donald Trump on Monday addressed the latest accusations of inappropriate sexual contact made against him, saying of the accuser, an adult film performer, 'Oh, I'm sure she's never been grabbed before.' At a news conference Saturday, Jessica Drake accused Trump of grabbing and kissing her without permission and offering her money to go up to his hotel room alone a decade ago. In an appearance on WGIR radio's "New Hampshire Today," Trump called the accusations against him 'total fiction.'" -- CW 

The Cowardly Lawyers. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Alarmed by Donald J. Trump’s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Mr. Trump’s litigation history. The report concluded that Mr. Trump was a 'libel bully' who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court. But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing 'the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.'”

"The Election Is Rigged, So Don't Bother to Vote." Sincerely, DJT. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "It's hard to suss out whether Trump's 'the vote is rigged' message is already tamping down the enthusiasm of his base, but in ABC's new poll, the number of Republicans who reported being likely to vote fell seven points since the Post-ABC poll released earlier this month.... Trump is ... relying heavily on strong turnout from a group of voters that generally doesn't turn out that much.... Telling them instead that the vote is rigged and, implicitly, that their votes may not count seems like the exact opposite of what he should be doing." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: Trump's primary calling card has been his contention that he is a business and organizational genius on an order rarely seen, that there is nothing he can't fix. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. He's going Chapter 11 on his own campaign. This guy is so incompetent, he can't even do what is most necessary to win, GOTV. In fact, his big idea is to imply that votes won't matter. Loser or idiot? You make the call.

** Trumpgate -- How Donald Trump Framed Hillary Clinton

Step 1. Give a Criminal a "Charitable Grant." Josh Israel of Think Progress (Oct. 20): The Trump Foundation gave $10,000 to Project Veritas in May 2015.

Step 2. Assist in Dirty Tricks You Can Pretend Are Tied to Your Opponent. Hadas Gold of Politico: "A liberal activist and organizer coordinated with reporters from the conservative news site Breitbart during the primaries to cover his disruptions of events for candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio. Aaron Black, an associate with Democracy Partners and a former Occupy Wall Street organizer, worked with the pro-Trump site Breitbart, tipping it off about his stunts, exchanging raw video and coordinating coverage, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.... 'He worked directly with Breitbart’s political team on the ground in the primary states to sabotage Marco Rubio & Ted Cruz, and elect Trump as nominee of [the Republican] party,' the source told Politico.... Black has resurfaced recently as one of the people featured in undercover video from the Project Veritas group.... Black in the video says he helped organize protests in Chicago that led to Trump's cancellation of a rally there in March...." ...

Step 3. Have the Criminal Secretly Videotape (and Edit!) the Dirty Tricks. (See Gold.)

Step 4. Accuse Your Opponent & Her Allies of Criminality (in a Maximum-Visibility Venue).

If you look at what came out today on the clips [by Project Veritas]. I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence. She’s the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people, they paid them $1,500, and they’re on tape saying, be violent, cause fights, do bad things. When I saw what they did, which is a criminal act by the way, where they’re telling people to go out and start fist-fights and start violence. In particular in Chicago people were hurt, and people could’ve been killed in that riot. And that was now all on tape started by her. -- Donald Trump, at the third president debate

... CW: Notice how Trump one-upped Nixon. Nixon had teams of dirty tricksters: most notably the Watergate burglars & the "Plumbers." Trump not only has a team of dirty tricksters; he also blames Clinton & President Obama for the dirty tricks his own team perpetrated. If there is criminality in this entire conspiracy, it starts with Donald Trump, who financed, coordinated & encouraged the activity as part of a long-running plot to undermine his opponents.

     ... Worse than Watergate? Not in toto, because the Watergate investigation morphed into exposing the crimes Nixon & his minions commited while he was in office. But worse than the original Watergate burglary? Yes, insofar as Trump arranged to have the dirty tricks "exposed," so he could try to pin the supposed criminal acts on the POTUS & Hillary Clinton. Remember, Trump's Russian allies already had committed the equivalent of the Watergate burglary -- the purpose of which was to steal the DNC's campaign documents-- when they hacked into numerous Democratic accounts, including the DNC's & John Podesta's. Unlike Nixon, who tried to cover up the Watergate burglary, Trump "openly and notoriously" encouraged the Russian hacks. The whole scheme is extraordinary.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "A video posted on Monday by a British newspaper appeared to show a Republican consultant with ties to Donald J. Trump offering to disguise the source of contributions to a 'super PAC' intended to aid Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. In an accompanying article, the newspaper, The Telegraph, wrote that two of its reporters, posing as representatives of a Chinese national who supported Mr. Trump..., had proposed making a $2 million contribution in support of him. According to the newspaper, the G.O.P. consultant, Jesse Benton, had proposed routing the contribution through his own public relations firm and into nonprofit groups that do not disclose their donors, disguising the foreign source. The groups would then make the contribution to the super PAC, known as Great America PAC, or spend it to benefit Mr. Trump. United States law strictly forbids foreign nationals from making contributions to candidates, political parties or PACs.... Last month [Benton] was sentenced to two years of probation for his role in a 2012 scheme to make secret payments to an Iowa state senator in exchange for an endorsement [of Ron Paul for president]." ...

... CW: Lest we forget, "Benton is strongly associated with the Paul family, serving as a high-ranking staffer for both Ron Paul and Rand Paul. He is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter."

** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Dana Milbank: "... We in the media made Trump possible in the first place and enjoyed the entertainment (and ratings) he provided for far too long. When the election ends — if it ends — there needs to be some newsroom soul-searching.... In general, watchdogs until recently were outnumbered in this election by those who cover politics as horse race, praising the maneuvers of whichever candidate is ahead in the polls. This avowedly neutral approach — process journalism — is apolitical. But it’s also amoral — a he-said-she-said approach that in this case confused tactics for truth and what works for what’s right....

'It’s the revenge of the elites,” Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics said ... on MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe'.... 'Elites do not accept that that was an appropriate answer.' Host Joe Scarborough agreed that the issue was only of concern to 'people in newsrooms . . . with their soy lattes.' Halperin (Harvard ’87) went on to say that 'normal people won’t care about that answer.'... 'Morning Joe' has come in for a large share of criticism for cheering on the rise of Trump. And contributor Halperin’s praise for Trump’s tactical genius has been particularly soulless. -- CW  

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "The sickness in today’s Republican Party is not confined to its current standard-bearer. It is therefore not curable by merely disavowing, however belatedly, the soon-to-be-defeated nominee. The sickness has taken over the Republican base, and there’s only one antidote. If Republicans truly want to save the Republican Party, they need to go to war with right-wing media. That is, they need to dismantle the media machine persuading their base to believe completely bonkers, bigoted garbage.... When it comes to the paranoid, destructive excesses of right-wing media — not just Fox News’s headliners such as Sean Hannity, but also Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones — Republican leaders have been somewhat more reluctant to condemn or even gently critique." -- CW

Here's the thing: Trump didn't come out of nowhere now. For years, Republican politicians and far-right media outlets have been pumping out all kinds of toxic, crazy stuff.... Donald Trump didn't start all this. Like he usually does, he just slapped his name on it, took credit for it, and promoted the heck out of it. -- President Obama, last Thursday ...

... Oliver Darcy & Pamela Engel of Business Insider: "Trump's rise was no accident; rather, it was a natural outgrowth of a growing and influential faction of conservative media that for years fed the Republican base a steady diet of fringe theories masqueraded as news. And Republicans allowed it to happen, as Obama noted. 'They just stood by and said nothing, even though they knew better, while their base actually started believing some of this stuff,' he said.... The president's remarks hit home for numerous Republican strategists and members of the traditional conservative press. Many of them felt that Obama, public enemy No. 1 over the past eight years, had been the one to accurately home in on the problem." -- CW ...

... Who's to Blame? -- the Chickens or the Eggers? Josh Barro of Business Insider: "... the Republican Party cannot be fixed through the taming of its most committed members' favorite media outlets. The popularity of figures who fill Republicans' heads with disinformation — people like Sean Hannity and Alex Jones and Matt Drudge is mostly a symptom of the problems in the party, not a cause.... Wealthy conservatives favor lower taxes on themselves.... This ... is not a compelling electoral argument. So, conservatives built a network of think tanks and magazines and pressure groups funded by wealthy donors whose job was to come up with arguments that would sell the donor class agenda to the masses.... The conservative information sphere has long been full of lies.... If Republicans want to tell the truth and win elections, they're going to have to advance different policy ideas — and that's why they lie." -- CW 

More Media Notes! Must-Not-See TV. Issie Lapowsky of Wired: "Welcome to the Donald Trump show! [Monday night], the Trump campaign [kicked] off a show that will air on the candidate’s Facebook page every night at 6:30 pm ET.... In [the] inaugural episode [the show's hosts] ... interview Trump campaign manager KellyAnne Conway and adviser Jason Miller. The series, which will stream Trump’s rallies directly each night and feature pre-and post-event commentary, comes on the heels of the campaign’s debate night Facebook Live last week, which brought in more than 9 million views. Members of the media quickly seized on the event, calling it a test drive for Trump TV...." -- CW ...

... Charley Lanyon of New York: "The live-stream — modeled after a cable news network with similar graphics and a news ticker running at the bottom of the screen — featured Trump campaign advisers Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims acting as hosts, interviewing Trump supporters such as campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, The Blaze’s conservative commentator Tomi Lahren, and the Republican National Committee’s communications director and chief strategist Sean Spicer. In between interviews and clips from Trump campaign ads, the hosts railed against the 'left-wing media' which Epshteyn explained 'screws everything up' and boasted that now they could reach viewers without bias or spin." -- CW 

Trivial Pursuits. Jasmine Lee & Kevin Quealy of the New York Times have catalogued “Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far)” since Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015. (Updated Oct. 23.) ...

... "Bigly"? No, no, it's "big league"! Transcribers & linguists agree. CW: Why, it's almost as if Trump speaks at a second-semester fifth-grade level, even if he drops his "g"s.

Election News

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest North Carolina poll finds that Democrats are running up large leads already during early voting. Among those who say they've already voted, 63% say they cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton to only 37% for Donald Trump. Interestingly, less than half of a percent say they voted for Gary Johnson, which could be a sign that he won't end up getting that much more support than a normal third party candidate. The big Democratic advantage holds down ballot as well. Roy Cooper leads Pat McCrory 61-33 for Governor among those who have already voted, with Libertarian Lon Cecil at 1%. And Deborah Ross leads Richard Burr 52-34 for Senate, with Libertarian Sean Haugh at 7% among those who say they have already cast their ballots." -- CW ...

... Polling of likely North Carolina voters is considerably more grim. CW: Let's hope Trump keeps depressing the GOP vote.

** Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post: "A growing conflict over voting rights and ballot access is playing out in Georgia, where civil rights activists are trading accusations with Republican elected officials and where the stakes have risen considerably with the state’s new status as a closely watched battleground. Activists said this month that as many as 100,000 Georgia ­voter-registration applications have not been processed. One of the state’s largest counties offered only one early-voting site, prompting hours-long waits for many people at the polls last week. And the state’s top election official has refused to extend ­voter-registration deadlines in counties hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew."  ...

     ... CW: Thanks, Supremes! Georgia is one of the states that is off the hook now because of the confederate Supremes gutting the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

Early Voting in Nevada Goes to Democrats. James Hohmann of the Washington Post. "Katy Perry’s glamour, Tom Steyer’s money, Univision’s megaphone and organized labor’s muscle, along with a late assist from Barack Obama, each helped lubricate Harry Reid’s well-oiled political machine over the past 48 hours. The media tends to focus on the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton relative to President Obama, which is real, but a few thousand more ballots were cast in Nevada on Saturday -- during the first day of early voting -- than during the kickoff day four years ago, when there was a similar flurry of activity to propel Democrats to the polls. And that was before Air Force One touched down yesterday afternoon." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: Block parties for Voto Latino, door to door canvassing, hitting the unions and the churches, Getting.Out.The.Vote. This is how it's done, Donnie, not whining about how it's all so unfair and screaming "rigged election"! Another example of how he does business. He shoots his mouth off but the only action you'll see from [Donald]Trump is him trying to grope strange women. But this is yet another reason anti-democratic Confederates want to kill expansion of electoral opportunities like early voting. ...

     ... CW: As Nate Silver pointed out in a post also linked yesterday, "Nevada is one of a number of states where Democrats usually do better in early voting than in the vote overall, so this shouldn’t be taken to mean that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, are going to win their races by double digits." ...

... BUT. Ben Botkin of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Hillary Clinton is pulling away from Donald Trump in Nevada with early voting underway, according to a poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Clinton ... has a 7-point lead over GOP nominee Donald Trump, 48 percent to 41 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson has 6 percent support. Four percent of voters are undecided and 1 percent support someone else or no candidate." CW: No doubt this will all change when polling reflects Sheldon Adelson's Review-Journal endorsement of the Trumpenmogul.

     CW BTW: Today was the first day for early voting in Florida, & when friends & I went this morning, the line was about two people long. Not only that, we were at the only polling place in Fort Myers. A lady I chatted with came over from Cape Coral, which is GOP territory, "because the lines were too long there." Extremely anecdotal, to be sure, but not a great sign, particularly because our polling place is in about the only Democratic-leaning area in Southwest Florida.

Other News & Views

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Premiums for midlevel health plans under the Affordable Care Act will increase by an average of 25 percent next year, while consumers in some states will find significantly fewer insurance companies offering coverage, the federal government said Monday. But the Obama administration said three-fourths of consumers would still be able to find plans for less than $100 a month with the help of federal subsidies." -- CW 

Lauren Fox of TPM: "Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he is confident that he has laid the groundwork for Democrats to nuke the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees if they win back the Senate in November.... Reid warned that if a Senate Republican minority block [Clinton's] Supreme Court nominee, he is confident the party won't hesitate to change the filibuster rules again. Such a move would be an extension of what Reid did in 2013 when he was still majority leader, eliminating filibusters (with a simple majority vote) on the President's nominees. There was only one exception: the Supreme Court.... Reid said, however, that could change. 'I really do believe that I have set the Senate so when I leave, we’re going to be able to get judges done with a majority...,' Reid told TPM in a wide-ranging interview about his time in the Senate and his legacy." ...

     ... CW: Remember, hold your nose & vote for the Democrat even if he's a jerk. I'm talking to you, Indianans. (See Bayh, Birch.) 

Reed Abelson of the New York Times: The AARP Monday filed "a federal lawsuit against the government agency that handles the rules on ... so-called wellness programs.... The suit ... argues that the programs violate anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting workers’ medical information. It also questions whether the programs are truly voluntary when the price of not participating can be high.The target of the suit is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency responsible for issuing the rules governing what employers can do." -- CW 

How to Make a Maligned Institution Scummier. David Cloud of the Los Angeles Times: "Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war. Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back. Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: The Bush Cheney Debacle keeps on screwing Americans. Hey, if the Pentagon is demanding that soldiers who signed up to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan pay back sign up bonuses, why can't those soldiers demand that the Pentagon give them back their legs, arms, eyes, and mental health they forfeited to make George W. Bush forget that he was a deserter? ...

     ... UPDATE: Cristiano Lima "Hillary Clinton [and other political leaders] slammed the California National Guard and Pentagon on Monday for reportedly demanding solders who fought in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago to return enlistment bonuses they received for their service." -- CW 

What Unites Us. Dan Zak of the Washington Post: "Just before midnight Saturday, Tom Hanks ... pulled off the best political sketch of the year.... 'Saturday Night Live' has staged its 'Black Jeopardy' sketch a few times before, pitting its African American cast members against white guest hosts who can’t overcome their own whiteness to answer clues about black culture and jargon. This time, though, the white contestant — a Trump supporter named Doug played by Hanks — proved to be surprisingly adept at 'Black Jeopardy'”:

Beyond the Beltway

Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "The Virginia Board of Health voted Monday to scrap hospital-style building codes for all abortion clinics, saying that they were unconstitutional under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The board had signaled months ago that it would lift the requirements for 14 existing clinics but impose them on any new ones. But in an 11-to-4 vote Monday, it decided that the construction requirements should not apply to any of the state’s clinics. The decision follows a Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down abortion-clinic regulations in Texas. It also fulfills a central campaign promise of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who said during the 2013 campaign that he would be a 'brick wall' against abortion restrictions." -- CW 

Angela Couloumbis & Craig R. McCoy of "Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced Monday to 10 to 23 months in jail for orchestrating an illegal news leak to damage a political enemy, capping a spectacular downfall for a woman once seen as one of the state's fastest-rising stars.... A tearful Kane pleaded for leniency, urging the judge to consider the impact on her sons", to no avail. -- CW 

Claude Brodesser-Akner of "A top Democrat said Monday the law firm hired by Gov. Chris Christie to conduct a state-funded investigation of the Bridgegate scandal should refund $8 million to New Jersey taxpayers, saying she is 'infuriated' by court testimony contradicting its findings. 'It is a legal question as to whether we can compel them to refund the money,' state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) told NJ Advance Media. 'But at the least, we are going to demand that they refund it first. This is a big deal. Those millions should go to programs for women's health, for education, that we've had to cut.'" -- CW 


The Commentariat -- October 24, 2016

Afternoon Update:

"The Election Is Rigged, So Don't Bother to Vote." Sincerely, DJT. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "It's hard to suss out whether Trump's 'the vote is rigged' message is already tamping down the enthusiasm of his base, but in ABC's new poll, the number of Republicans who reported being likely to vote fell seven points since the Post-ABC poll released earlier this month.... Trump is...relying heavily on strong turnout from a group of voters that generally doesn't turn out that much...Telling them instead that the vote is rigged and, implicitly, that their votes may not count seems like the exact opposite of what he should be doing." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Trump's primary calling card has been his contention that he is a business and organizational genius on an order rarely seen, that there is nothing he can't fix. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. He's going Chapter 11 on his own campaign. This guy is so incompetent, he can't even do what is most necessary to win, GOTV. His big idea is to imply that votes won't matter. Loser or idiot? You make the call.

How to Make a Much-maligned Institution Even Scummier. David Cloud of the Los Angeles Times: "Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war. Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back. Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses -- and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse -- after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the -- wars last decade." ...

     ... Akhilleus: The Bush Cheney Debacle keeps on screwing Americans. Hey, if the Pentagon is demanding that soldiers who signed up to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan pay back sign up bonuses, why can't those soldiers demand that the Pentagon give them back their legs, arms, eyes, and mental health they forfeited to make George W. Bush forget that he was a deserter?

Early Voting in Nevada Goes to Democrats. James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "The media tends to focus on the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton relative to President Obama, which is real, but a few thousand more ballots were cast in Nevada on Saturday -- during the first day of early voting -- than during the kickoff day four years ago, when there was a similar flurry of activity to propel Democrats to the polls. And that was before Air Force One touched down yesterday afternoon."...

     ... Akhilleus: Block parties for Voto Latino, door to door canvassing, hitting the unions and the churches, Getting.Out.The.Vote. This is how it's done, Donnie, not whining about how it's all so unfair and screaming "rigged election"! Another example of how he does business. He shoots his mouth off but the only action you'll see is him trying to grope strange women. But this is yet another reason anti-democratic Confederates want to kill expansion of electoral opportunities like early voting.


Presidential Race

Gary Langer, et al., of ABC News: "Hillary Clinton has vaulted to a double-digit advantage in the inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll, boosted by broad disapproval of Donald Trump on two controversial issues: His treatment of women and his reluctance to endorse the election's legitimacy. Likely voters by a vast 69-24 percent disapprove of Trump's response to questions about his treatment of women. After a series of allegations of past sexual misconduct, the poll finds that some women who'd initially given him the benefit of the doubt have since moved away. Fifty-nine percent of likely voters, moreover, reject Trump's suggestion that the election is rigged in Clinton's favor, and more, 65 percent, disapprove of his refusal to say whether he'd accept a Clinton victory as legitimate. Most strongly disapprove, a relatively rare result. All told, Clinton leads Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 50 to 38 percent, in the national survey, her highest support and his lowest to date in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls. Gary Johnson has 5 percent support, Jill Stein 2 percent." -- CW ...

... Nate Silver: "The problem for Trump is that taken as a whole, his polls aren't very good -- and, in fact, they may still be getting worse. An ABC News national poll released on Sunday morning -- the first live-caller poll conducted fully after the final presidential debate -- showed Clinton leading Trump 50 percent to 38 percent. Clinton's 12-point lead in that poll is toward the high end of a broad range of results from recent national polls, with surveys showing everything from a 15-point Clinton lead to a 2-point Trump edge. But the ABC News poll is interesting given its recency and given why Clinton has pulled so far ahead in it -- Republicans aren't very happy with their candidate and may not turn out to vote.... Overall, Clinton's chances of winning the presidency are 87 percent according to our polls-only model and 85 percent according to polls-plus." -- CW

Anne Gearan
of the Washington Post: Hillary Clinton spent "a full day in North Carolina on Sunday, with stops in the Raleigh-Durham area and in Charlotte. Recent polls in the battleground state place her between one and four percentage points ahead of Trump.... Clinton is concentrating much of her efforts in the state on addressing predominantly African American audiences, including at churches and at historically black universities such as St. Augustine's, where she spoke Sunday." -- CW

Alexander Burns & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton moved to press her advantage in the presidential race on Sunday, urging black voters in North Carolina to vote early as Republicans increasingly conceded that Donald J. Trump is unlikely to recover in the polls. With a strong lead in national polls, Mrs. Clinton has been pleading with core Democratic constituencies to get out and vote in states where balloting has already begun. By running up a lead well in advance of the Nov. 8 election in states like North Carolina and Florida, she could make it extraordinarily difficult for Mr. Trump to mount a late comeback. On Sunday, Mrs. Clinton appeared at a church in Raleigh, N.C., with mothers who have lost children to gun violence or clashes with the police. Addressing the congregation, she sounded like a candidate looking past the election to a presidency in which she would have to address a deeply divided nation." -- CW

If I had my life to relive, I'd do it all again. But this time, I'd be nastier. -- Jeannette Rankin, first female member of Congress, shortly before she died at the age of 92

Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "Hillary Clinton told [Tim] Kaine one of the reasons she felt a connection with him was because his faith, his missionary service in Honduras and his Jesuit education matched with her Methodist upbringing, the Virginia senator told Chuck Todd on NBC's 'Meet the Press' on Sunday. 'Hillary Clinton's feeling about faith and about Catholicism in particular is most demonstrated by the fact that she asked me to be a running mate,' Kaine said. 'That is the most direct evidence about what Hillary thinks about Catholics.' -- CW

Isaac Arnsdorf: "Tim Kaine said Sunday he's concerned about the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner, suggesting a Hillary Clinton administration might be skeptical of the deal if she wins the election. 'I share those concerns and questions. We've got to get to the bottom of them,' the Virginia senator told host Chuck Todd on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'Less concentration, I think, is generally helpful, especially in the media.' Clinton hasn't commented on the deal but has previously called for strong regulatory scrutiny of major mergers." -- CW

Rebecca Morin of Politico: "Robby Mook said Sunday that the women accusing Donald Trump of sexual misconduct have not been in contact with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. 'These accusations are not coming from our campaign,' Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, told CNN's Jake Tapper on 'State of the Union.' When pressed by Tapper, Mook said there has not been any contact 'that I'm aware of.'" -- CW

Isaac Arnsdorf: "Democratic operatives aren't inciting violence at Donald Trump rallies, a senior Clinton campaign strategist said Sunday in response to last week's sting videos by Project Veritas. The two subcontractors shown in the videos have resigned, and there aren't other people doing the same thing, Joel Benenson told George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' 'This Week.' Benenson said the person who released the footage, James O'Keefe, has doctored his videos in the past to cast people from Planned Parenthood and NPR, among others, in the worst possible light." -- CW

Katie Glueck
of Politico: "Donald Trump on Sunday insisted that he remains competitive in the polls, particularly with women, even as a host of recent surveys show the Republican nominee's numbers plummeting. Trump kicked off a rally in Naples, Fla., by bashing polls as 'inaccurate,' especially the myriad results that show him struggling with women." -- CW

Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "... Donald Trump on Sunday slammed Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. 'This guy Podesta is a nasty guy,' Trump said Sunday evening during a campaign rally in Florida, echoing an insult he hurled at the Democratic presidential nominee during last week's debate. 'Man, I wouldn't want people speaking ... about me behind my back. But he said "bad instincts." Bernie Sanders said about Hillary Clinton, "bad judgment." So, she's got bad instincts, she's got bad judgment,' the GOP nominee continued, quoting from emails allegedly stolen from Podesta's email account and published by Wikileaks. 'You take a look at all of the harm and all of the things she's done, it's a mess.'" -- CW

Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "Just four years ago, Donald Trump took a drastically different position on what is now his central issue: deporting undocumented immigrants in the United States.... Asked about his views on immigrant labor, Trump said, 'You know my views on it and I'm not necessarily, I think I'm probably down the middle on that also. Because I also understand how, as an example, you have people in this country for 20 years, they've done a great job, they've done wonderfully, they've gone to school, they've gotten good marks, they're productive -- now we're supposed to send them out of the country, I don't believe in that..., and you understand that. I don't believe in a lot things that are being said.'" -- CW

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Republican pollster, admitted Sunday that her candidate is currently losing to Democrat Hillary Clinton." -- CW ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday reminded Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway that she had been against her bosses 'rigged' election claims in April before he paid her to to start defending them. On Sunday's State of the Union, Tapper noted that there was 'no real evidence' to support Donald Trump's claim that the election is being 'rigged' against him. 'Back in April when you were working against Donald Trump, when you were working for Ted Cruz and advising his super PAC, you had some tough words for Mr. Trump when he was lashing out at the time against the system being rigged,' Tapper told Conway before refreshing her memory with a video clip. 'We hear from the Trump campaign, the rules change, it's not fair,' Conway had said in April. 'He can whine and complain all he wants that he didn't know the rules.' 'Is this a pattern with Mr. Trump?' Tapper wondered. 'If he starts losing, he starts lashing out and calling the system corrupt and calling it rigged?' 'We love watching that clip together,' Conway quipped." -- CW

Brian Beutler: "... the bleakest possible scenario for Republicans isn't that Trump loses badly and refuses to admit defeat. It's that he rejects the notion that a fair election is even possible with him on the ticket, and announces he's boycotting it. His supporters, only a small fraction of whom would have refused to vote for Trump turncoats down the ballot, stay home en masse instead.... He would think of it as a final demonstration of power and vindictiveness, bringing his political career, his stewardship of the Republican Party, to a maximally destructive conclusion.... The Democrats take back the House. This is, I should stress, probably not going to happen." CW: I could live with that.

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times: "There's a pattern in Trump's behavior whenever he's asked to make a promise -- a pattern of coy evasiveness honed, presumably, in his years as a real estate mogul. He pulled the same stunt a year ago when Republicans asked for a pledge to support whomever became the GOP nominee. Trump said no, then yes, then rescinded his promise. The suspense didn't end until he won the nomination himself. This time, though, the stakes are much higher. If Trump continues to tell his followers that the election system is 'rigged' and accuses Hillary Clinton of stealing the White House on Nov. 8, the result could be months of chaos and years of bitterness." -- CW

Julia Ioffe in Foreign Policy: "When Trump accuses others of what he's doing himself -- or what the Russians are doing on his behalf -- I hear Vladimir Putin's voice. When Trump talks about regulating the 'dishonest' press or about jailing Clinton, these echoes become deafening.... Trump is trying his hand at another Putin trick: if you can't inherit the land, sow it with salt.... It wasn't hard for Putin to destroy democratic institutions that had been around for less than a decade. We are lucky to have roots deeper and stronger than that. But it doesn't mean he can't poison the soil they grow in for a long time to come." -- CW

E. J. Dionne: "To compare what Gore did in the aftermath of the contested 2000 election with what Trump is doing is like analogizing a fire marshal investigating the cause of a blaze to an arsonist.... Gore's call to George W. Bush after midnight conceding the race actually showed how much respect he had for the electoral process. It was only after news organizations withdrew their calls of Florida for Bush, depriving him of an electoral-college majority, that Gore decided a recount was called for. To this day, many Democrats view the Supreme Court's 5-to-4 decision abruptly halting recounts and awarding Florida to Bush by 537 votes as partisan and even lawless. Yet despite this, and even though Gore won the national popular vote by more than 500,000, he nonetheless conceded with exceptional graciousness. 'What remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside,' Gore said, publicly congratulating Bush and urging the country 'to unite behind our next president.'" -- CW

They Have Great Respect for Women. Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "Several Trump campaign staffers attended a strip club with news staffers from multiple television networks the night before the Las Vegas presidential debate, according to a report in Page Six. The report claims that Trump senior communications director Jason Miller and two other campaign advisers attended Sapphire Las Vegas Strip Club with employees of CNN, ABC, and NBC." -- CW

Kevin Drum offers instructions in how to write a Clinton e-mailgate story. He's fed up with them. ...

     ... CW: Drum's how-to manual seems a little arduous to me. It requires a bit of reporting. Also, it's limited to just e-mail scandals. So let's expand that:

A. If you're as lazy as I am, try the Burns Plan: 1. Scan the papers till you find a story about something bad a Democrat did, or something bad that happened to a Democrat. Any Democrat will do; obscure Congressional staffer is good. (If you're an internationalist, you can use the same tack by substituting "foreign dignitary" for "Democrat," but American readers tend to like American-based stories better, especially if they involve some easy-to-understand sleaze.) 2. Make up a connection between the obscure Democrat/dignitary & Hillary. Hell, they've probably met; there may be a photo-op. 3. Print it.

B. If you're as lazy as Donald Trump is, say, "People tell me __fill in conspiracy theory__."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Cleve Wootson of the Washington Post: "The Las Vegas Review-Journal became the first major newspaper to endorse Donald Trump for president this election season, stating that, while the candidate has flaws, he'll bring needed disruption and change to Washington.... The paper was bought by Sheldon Adelson last year, a major Republican donor who is also another billionaire linked to casinos." -- CW

She literally has the smile on her face of every woman that's been talked over by a man who has no idea what he's doing. -- Sara McAlpin, a Republican woman describing Hillary Clinton at the last debate ...

... Michelle Goldberg of Slate: Republican women feel their party has betrayed them. Why are party leaders defending Trump instead of them? -- CW

Congressional Races

"Issa Was Trump Before Trump." Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "Laughing as he spoke..., [President] Obama said he couldn't believe that [Rep. Darrell] Issa [R-Calif.], now locked in the hardest race of his career, had sent out [a] mailer, which brags, 'I am very pleased that President Obama has signed into law the Survivors' Bill of Rights -- legislation I cosponsored to protect the victims of sexual assault.' [The mailer includes a picture of President Obama.] 'That is the definition of chutzpah,' Obama said, adding later, 'that is shameless.'" Issa has called Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in history, [said] he should be impeached and question[ed] whether he was telling the truth about his birth certificate...." -- CW

Gutless Joe. Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama on Sunday savaged Representative Joe Heck, Republican of Nevada, for failing to reject Donald J. Trump earlier in the presidential race, seeking to tarnish Mr. Heck and other Republican candidates across the country by association with a standard-bearer he called indecent and unfit for the presidency. Speaking at a high school [in North Las Vegas] as he began a three-day campaigning and fund-raising trip, Mr. Obama portrayed Mr. Heck, who is in a competitive Senate race that could determine control of that chamber, as having helped enable Mr. Trump's rise by endorsing his breed of divisive politics. Only now, with Mr. Trump's campaign foundering, is Mr. Heck willing to abandon him, the president said." -- CW

Paul Krugman: "Everyone who endorsed Mr. Trump in the past owns him now; it's far too late to get a refund. And voters should realize that voting for any Trump endorser is, in effect, a vote for Trumpism, whatever happens at the top of the ticket. First of all, nobody who was paying attention can honestly claim to have learned anything new about Mr. Trump in the last few weeks.... You can ignore all the efforts to portray Mr. Trump as a deviation from the G.O.P.'s true path: Trumpism is what the party is all about.... The modern G.O.P. is Mr. Trump's party, with or without the man himself." -- CW

Gubernatorial Races

Reid Wilson of the Hill: "A new round of surveys in states electing governors this November show Democrats poised to pick up seats and gain some ground on Republicans in governors' mansions. Democrats were initially uncertain about their chances to make strides at the gubernatorial level, given the number of conservative states -- Missouri, West Virginia and Montana among them -- the party had to defend. But the recent polls have given them a reason to be more optimistic." -- CW

State Legislatures

Monica Davey & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama, who has endured gridlock in Washington as Republicans in the states took direct aim at his vision and legacy, is stepping in to assist more than 150 state legislative candidates, by far his biggest effort to bolster local Democrats since he took office. 'You are going to see a level of engagement down to the state representative level that I don't think you've seen too many presidents engage in,' said David Simas, the White House political director.... Republicans effectively control 68 of the nation's 99 statehouse chambers, compared with 36 at the start of 2010. For years, Democrats complained that Mr. Obama and his political operation paid too little attention to the health of the party, and during his tenure, more than 800 Democratic state lawmakers have been voted out of office, among the worst losses for the party under any president in more than 100 years." -- CW

Other News & Views

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "For the first time since the days of poll taxes and literacy tests a half-century ago, the Justice Department will be sharply restricted in how it can deploy some of its most powerful weapons to deter voter intimidation in the presidential election. Because of a Supreme Court ruling three years ago, the department will send special election observers inside polling places in parts of only four states on Election Day, a significant drop from 2012, when it sent observers to jurisdictions in 13 states.... The pullback worries civil rights advocates, who say that Donald J. Trump's call for his supporters to monitor a 'rigged' electoral system could lead to intimidation of minority voters at polling places." -- CW

Eric Levitz of New York: "If you are a median, full-time American worker, then congratulations: Your inflation-adjusted weekly earnings hit an all-time high in the third quarter of this year, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics...[O]ver the past 18 months, America has seen rising weekly wages amid low unemployment, with paycheck growth powered by a tight labor market that bestows bargaining power on workers -- and a global oil glut that provides them low inflation. That sunny BLS data comes one month after the Census Bureau's annual report found that household-income growth hit an all-time high in 2015.... Now, economic growth is still tepid. Inequality is still massive. Many homeowners remain underwater on their mortgages.... Still, there is a dissonance between the economy's recent performance and the common view that 2016 -- even more than 2012 -- is an election in which an angry electorate longs for a change in executive leadership." --safari

Elaine Woo of the Washington Post: "Tom Hayden, the preeminent 1960s radical who roused a generation of alienated young Americans, became a symbol of militancy by leading riotous protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and added Hollywood glamour to his mystique with an activist partnership and marriage to film star Jane Fonda, died Oct. 23 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76. Mr. Hayden's wife, Barbara Williams, confirmed the death to the Associated Press but did not provide an immediate cause. He had heart disease and was hospitalized for a stroke in 2015." -- CW ...

... Hayden's Los Angeles Times obituary, by Michael Finnegan, is here. -- CW

Way Beyond

Annals of Journalism, international edition. Michael Safi in the Guardian: "Unlike in 1999 (the last time India and Pakistan went to war), this most recent ramping up of tensions between the two is being beamed into Indian homes on dozens of 24-hour news channels, most barely a decade old.... But the eagerness of many networks in the past weeks to assume a war posture has sparked soul-searching among some Indian journalists over the direction of the country's fast-growing, but still relatively young TV market. 'Journalists have come to see themselves as warriors,' says Shekhar Gupta ... of the India Today Group.... The man often credited with bringing what has been dubbed the Fox News style to India is Arnab Goswami, an spectacled Oxford graduate whose debate programme, The Newshour, is often lampooned, but easily commands the country's largest English-speaking audience.... On the Hindi news networks, whose ratings are more than fifty times larger than their English counterparts, the dynamics are much the same." --safari

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Guardian is live-blogging the beginning phases of the week-long dismantling of the notorious "Jungle" refugee "camp" (more like a slum) in Calais, France, home to around 7,000 refugees awaiting a ticket to the UK. This is in the context of a week-long police demonstration against the government of François Hollande for a lack of proper resources and support. Alain Juppé, the current favorite to win the presidential nomination, has even proposed renegociating the Le Toquet accord and pushing the border back to Kent in the United Kingdom, so the UK would have to deal with the asylum-seekers (the Brexit vote wasn't supposed to change this arrangement). Hopefully things go smoothly.--safari


When You Don't Get the "Joke"

Jokes depend upon subtext. When you "get" the joke, it's because you know the subtext. Jokes are funny because the subtext both gives the joke its meaning & creates a momentary bond between teller & hearer. For instance, when Hillary Clinton said at the Al Smith dinner last week, "Usually, I charge a lot for speeches like this," most hearers knew this was a joke at her own expense, and referred to speeches she made to Goldman Sachs & other big corporations and for which she was paid seemingly huge sums for what appeared to be, in each case, about an hour's work. The speeches became campaign issues in both the primary and general elections, particularly because Clinton would not release transcripts or tapes of her remarks. Clinton used fewer than ten words to spoof herself and her critics. We knew that backstory, so we got the joke. Ha ha.

Donald Trump told one "joke" at the dinner I just didn't get: "... here she is tonight — in public — trying to pretend she doesn’t hate Catholics.” Why would anybody even think that, much less say it? I wondered. Other than a few rabid StormTrumpers, who "hates Catholics"?

As Amy Davidson of the New Yorker writes, the excuse for that shocking remark was this: "Trump’s joke was about an e-mail in which Jennifer Palmieri, a Clinton aide who herself is Catholic, referred to Catholicism as 'the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion.' The Trumpian translation turned this into evidence that Clinton was a religious bigot — an anti-Catholic in a room full of Catholics." Mighty obscure, and scarcely a trope worthy of an insult directed at Clinton instead of Palmieri, but maybe that was it. It wasn't.

Near the end of the evening, Hillary Clinton, in what I assumed were more-or-less traditional remarks at Al Smith dinners, said,

And when I think about what Al Smith went through it’s important to just reflect how groundbreaking it was for him, a Catholic, to be my party’s nominee for president. Don’t forget – school boards sent home letters with children saying that if Al Smith is elected president you will not be allowed to have or read a Bible. Voters were told that he would annul Protestant marriages.

And I saw a story recently that said people even claimed the Holland Tunnel was a secret passageway to connect Rome and America, to help the Pope rule our country. Those appeals, appeals to fear and division, can cause us to treat each other as the Other. Rhetoric like that makes it harder for us to see each other, to respect each other, to listen to each other. And certainly a lot harder to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Okay, I thought, she was working Al Smith's misfortune into a criticism of Donald Trump and his whole campaign. Even so, it was quite appropriate, in context. But once again, I think I missed the subtext. 

Michael Daly of the Daily Beast reminded me: Donald Trump's father Fred "was arrested on Memorial Day in 1927 for participating in a Klu Klux Klan riot in his home borough of Queens. The riot was fueled in part by the prospect that Al Smith might become not just the Catholic governor of New York but the first Catholic president of the United States. 'Americans Assaulted by Roman Catholic Police of New York City' read KKK leaflets that went up in Queens the day after the arrest of Fred Trump and others."

In that tiny newspaper story, published nearly 90 years ago, lies Donald's "Rosebud." Religious, racial, ethnic, cultural and gender animus form the core of his twisted belief system. The views Fred Trump held in the 1920s explain why he and Donald didn't mind discriminating against blacks in their housing developments, even when they were operating under a consent decree; why Donald calls Mexicans rapists & criminals; why Donald thinks Americans of Hispanic descent are unfit to serve in high public office; why Donald would discriminate against Muslim men, women and children; why Donald would stereotype Jewish "folks"; why Donald would profile all people of color as part of his "law & order" platform; why Donald -- and his own sons -- would cultivate white supremacists; why Donald would see nothing wrong with getting into a fight with Pope Francis; why Donald would blithely suggest that his opponent "hates Catholics."

Donald Trump has run a hate campaign because hating others -- all others, no matter who -- is a family tradition. Hillary Clinton remarked on that at the Al Smith dinner. Maybe we didn't get it then, but we know it now.