The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Weather Channel: Hurricane Maria, a Category 2 hurricane, is increasingly likely to bring a brush of at least tropical storm-force winds and rain to parts of the East Coast later this week, in addition to its more certain impacts of coastal flooding, high surf, and rip currents."

Public Service Announcement

September 9: The New York Times reports that Equifax is doing nothing to protect you if hackers to its system gained access to your personal information. In fact, Equifax has a plan to make money on your misfortune. Reporter Ron Lieber has some suggestions about what you can do to protect yourself from Equifax & its hackers. Equifax is providing no good way to find out if you've been affected; it is apparently just trying to hook as many suckers as it can into getting a "free" account, but you can bet it won't stay free. Read the story if you'd like to feel helpless & enraged.

The New Yorker has links to Lillian Ross's stories here. The New Yorker is subscription-only but allows non-subscribers to read six stories a month, so if you're not a subscriber, you may want to open the page in a private window.

Mrs. McCrabbie: When the Emmy folks are looking to give out prizes next year, they should think Jimmy Kimmel.

Some highlights of the Emmys:

... To watch the whole monologue, go to YouTube & type something like "stephen colbert monologue emmys". There are quite a few pirated copies up right now, but CBS will certainly take them down, so none will be posted here. The Washington Post has some of the transcript here.

Former star of "The Apprentice" finally gets his Emmy:

Kim Weeks in the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton revealed this week she turned to an esoteric breathing technique popular among yogis to heal from her devastating election loss.... By bringing this kind of breath work into the mainstream, Clinton has introduced the world to a practice that has both proven mental and physical health benefits.... In nadi shodhana, the process of literally alternating breathing between the right and left nostril also helps balance the right and left brain, the right and left lungs, and the right and left sides of the body. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to slow down a rapid heart rate and to lower blood pressure." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Okay, I tried it. I can do the left nostril but not the right. That stressed me out.

Hill: "Melissa McCarthy brought home an Emmy this weekend for her memorable impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. The actress won an Emmy for best comedy actress on a comedy series at the Emmy’s creative arts awards Sunday, according to the Associated Press. The awards are a precursor to the main show next weekend." Spicer panned McCarthy's impression.

New York Times: "Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, plans to step down from the magazine in December after a 25-year tenure, leaving the role that established him as a ringmaster of the Hollywood, Washington and Manhattan power elite. Mr. Carter’s influence stretched from the magazine and entertainment worlds into finance, literature and politics, where President Trump, a target of Mr. Carter’s poison pen for decades, still bristles at the mention of his name. One of the few remaining celebrity editors in an industry whose fortunes have faded, Mr. Carter — famous for double-breasted suits, white flowing hair and a seven-figure salary — is a party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur whose cheeky-yet-rigorous brand of reporting influenced a generation of journalists.... Spy[a magazine Carter co-founded,] took special glee in attacking Mr. Trump, whom the magazine memorably deemed a 'short-fingered vulgarian.' (The insult stuck: just last week, Mr. Trump referred to his 'too big' hands during a visit to Houston.)"

New York Times: "Tronc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set the city’s agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage. The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as 'the wood' — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally."

Guardian (Sept. 4): "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child, Kensington Palace has announced. The announcement was made as the duchess was forced to cancel an engagement on Monday because of extreme morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum."

Speaking of Finland, as we were in relation to Donald Trump's complete lack of concern about Russian aggression, a remark he repeated in front of President Sauli Niinistö of neighboring Finland, because who cares?, the Finnish police procedural "Bordertown," which is streaming on Netflix is pretty good. Not sure if it comes dubbed, but Mr. McCrabbie & I like to listen to languages, so we were fine with subtitles. The "bordertown" borders Russia. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Constant Comments

Friday
Oct282016

The Commentariat -- October 29, 2016

Presidential Race

Director Comey admits 'the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.' He cannot predict how long the investigation will take. And we don't know if the FBI has these emails in hand. It's too bad Director Comey didn't take those gaping holes into consideration when he decided to send this letter. The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results. Today's break from that tradition is appalling. -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), in a statement

Why is FBI doing this just 11 days before the election? -- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), in a tweet

Eric Lichtblau, et al., of the New York Times: "The reaction [to FBI director James Comey's letter to Congress] was swift and damning, with Mrs. Clinton's supporters and even some Republicans blasting Mr. Comey.... By late Friday, Mr. Comey felt it necessary to further explain his actions in an email to F.B.I. employees in which he acknowledged that 'there is significant risk of being misunderstood.' He explained that he was trying to balance the obligation he felt to tell Congress that the investigation he had said was completed was continuing, with not knowing yet 'the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails.'... Justice Department officials were said to be deeply upset about Mr. Comey's decision to go to Congress with the new information before it had been adequately investigated. That decision, said several officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, appeared to contradict longstanding Justice Department guidelines discouraging any actions close to an election that could influence the outcome." -- CW ...

... The Washington Post story, by Sari Horwitz, is here. "FBI Director James B. Comey decided to inform Congress that he would look again into Hillary Clinton's handling of emails during her time as secretary of state for two main reasons: a sense of obligation to lawmakers and a concern that word of the new email discovery would leak to the media and raise questions of a coverup." -- CW ...

... Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "Comey's decision ... was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. [Loretta] Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department's longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election.... Comey's decision is a striking break with the policies of the Department of Justice, according to current and former federal legal officials.... [Comey's] latest action is stirring an extraordinary level of concern among legal authorities, who see it as potentially affecting the outcome of the Presidential and congressional elections.... According to the Administration official, Lynch asked Comey to follow Justice Department policies, but he said that he was obliged to break with them because he had promised to inform members of Congress if there were further developments in the case." -- CW ...

... CW: The more stories I read about Comey's failure of judgment, the better I'm feeling about public reaction to his October surprise. Victimizing Hillary Clinton is not a wise political move. Ask Rick Lazio. Yeah, I know -- Who? ...

** Comey's October Surprise Is One Helluva a Friday Afternoon News Dump. Adam Goldman, et al., of the New York Times: "Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner. The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case -- one federal official said they numbered in the thousands -- potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election. In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they 'appear to be pertinent to the investigation.' Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to 'determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.' He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant." Thanks to Victoria for the heads-up. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The story has been updated. ...

... The Washington Post's story, by Rosalind Helderman & others, is here. "As the news broke, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 150 points." CW: That's how much the markets like Trump. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: I must say I never guessed something as insignificant as Anthony's Weiner's dick would lead to the downfall of the United States. But there you go. ...

... ** Del Wilber & Evan Halper of the Los Angeles Times: "The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.... House Speaker Paul Ryan renewed his call to suspend classified briefings to the Democratic presidential nominee. Like Trump, Ryan took liberties in interpreting Comey's carefully worded letter. Ryan declared the FBI is reopening its investigation into Clinton's private email server, which is not what Comey wrote." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Wait, wait! "The emails were not to or from Clinton"? Yet Comey thought Trey Gowdy, King of Leakers, Jason Chaffetz, Price of Leakers, needed to know about them right before the election? Bull! ...

     ... Kevin Drum: "There. Is. Literally. Nothing. Here. WTF was Jim Comey thinking when he wrote his suggestive but ambiguous letter about these emails to eight congressional Republicans -- each of them practically slavering for Hillary Clinton's scalp -- 11 days before an election? And all of it based on absolutely nothing -- a fact that he very carefully avoided admitting. Has he gone completely around the bend?" -- CW ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "... according to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI has not even 'determined if the work emails in question are copies of messages already reviewed by the FBI.... NBC's Pete Williams reported Friday evening, 'it's very possible that many of these if not all of them are duplicates with the ones they have already seen from examining the e-mails that Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department.' People at the FBI, Williams also noted, 'don't have any idea what's in these e-mails yet.'" -- CW ...

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "The White House found out through media reports that the FBI would be reviewing additional emails related to its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private server as secretary of state, a spokesman said Friday.... 'We had that letter after it was made public,' [deputy press secretary Eric] Schultz said, 'so we did not have advance warning.'" -- CW ...

... Michele Gorman & Matthew Cooper of Newsweek: "Comey's letter doesn’t say his agents have discovered new witnesses or documents suggesting a criminal act occurred. Rather, he only suggests that evidence that had not yet been examined and, because it was relevant to the case, needs to be reviewed.... In his letter, Comey did not use the phrase being touted by Republicans that the case had been reopened. Technically it was never closed. Nor did he signal at all about the importance or unimportance about the emails.... 'I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,' Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire early Friday afternoon. 'This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understood. And it is everybody's hope that it is about to be corrected.' [CW: Notice how he completely mischaracterizes Comey's letter.] House Speaker Paul Ryan called for an end to classified briefings for Clinton." Thanks to Haley S. for the link. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... "Comey's Disclosure Shocks Former Prosecutors." Josh Gerstein, et al., of Politico: "James Comey's surprise announcement that investigators are examining new evidence in the probe of Hillary Clinton's email server put the FBI director back under a harsh spotlight, reigniting criticism of his unusual decision [last summer] to discuss the high-profile case in front of the media and two congressional committees.... Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York..., [said], 'Director Comey acted totally inappropriately. He had no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI has ever reviewed.'... Former Justice Department and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Matthew Miller [said,] 'The Justice Department's longstanding practice is don't do anything seen as trying to influence an election. That's usually interpreted as 60 days, let alone 11.... It's completely unfair to Secretary Clinton and it's really unfair to the voters. There's no reason he had to send this letter,' Miller told Politico." -- CW ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "A former director of the Justice Department's office of public affairs said Friday that FBI Director James Comey's letter to Congress announcing the review of more evidence in the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server constituted 'such an inappropriate disclosure.' Matthew Miller, who served at the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder, blasted Comey's move in a 14-post spree on Twitter Friday afternoon, ripping the FBI director for his practices throughout the entire Clinton investigation." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "Mrs. Clinton, as she has acknowledged, is responsible for this mess, which led Friday night to a gobsmacking headline on CNN: 'Weiner Sexting Probe Leads F.B.I. to Review Clinton Case.' If she is elected, she would do well to recall that line should she ever consider being less than forthcoming. Her apparent effort to blunt scrutiny by means of that private server has only led to far more damaging scrutiny and suspicion, with no end in sight. But Mr. Comey's failure to provide any specifics about a new, potentially important development, less than two weeks before Election Day, is confounding. As Mr. Comey put it in July: 'The American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest.' They deserve details even more urgently today." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Editors: Mr. Comey "inevitably creates a cloud of suspicion over Ms. Clinton that, if the case's history is any guide, is unwarranted.... The question will be how badly damaged was Ms. Clinton's candidacy by the 11th-hour re-eruption of a controversy that never should have generated so much suspicion or accusation in the first place." -- CW ...

It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. -- John Podesda, Clinton campaign chair, in a statement

Comey needs to provide full info immediately. Otherwise he has clearly made a partisan intervention, betraying his office. -- Paul Krugman, in a tweet

Journalist Twitter is full of shock at FBI behavior here. That same shock should make it into news reports; not doing so misleads public -- Paul Krugman, in a tweet

... CW: Ed Kilgore is much more sanguine than I: "... the underlying 'story' of the emails isn't some sort of bombshell, and the odds are that the negative attention and any lingering substantive concerns among voters will be too little, too late to make much of a difference.... On the other hand the new email story -- unless the FBI or press leaks take the air out of it right away -- is a heaven-sent opportunity for the Trump campaign to convince its supporters he can still win, and that his ranting and raving about Clinton's supposed criminality is being vindicated. It won't get him 270 electoral votes, but it could boost Republican turnout enough to make a difference in down-ballot races, and maybe even make the evening of November 8 suspenseful even if fears of a voting machine hacks or Trumpian violence prove fanciful." ...

     ... CW: The "underlying 'story'" is some sort of bombshell: voters are reminded of Clinton's connection to Anthony Weiner, whose alleged activity (I'm sure you've seen the photos) is, in most people's minds, worse than Donald Trump's grabbing the asses of unsuspecting adult women. Yeah, yeah, Clinton isn't Weiner & Trump is Trump, but the disgust level is pretty much equal. ...

... Nate Silver: "My hunch (like The Washington Post's Dave Weigel's) is that Weiner is such a tragicomic figure, and such a lightning rod for news coverage, that he could insulate Clinton from some of the fallout she might have suffered otherwise. There are also fewer undecided voters now than there were in July, voter choices are more locked in, and many people have already voted -- which could lessen the impact." -- CW ...

... Jamelle Bouie: "Given the effect of past email news, it's possible this will turn off independent or undecided voters from Clinton. It's also possible that her negatives are already baked in and won't budge. And it's possible, perhaps likely, that it won't matter at all.... The folk theory of American democracy is that citizens deliberate on the issues and choose a candidate. That is false. The truth, as political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels describe in Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government, is that voters are tribalistic. Their political allegiances come first, and their positions and beliefs follow.... If the final week of an election is a time of mass mobilization and hyperpartisanship, then the best odds are that the Weiner emails [[ and the renewed focus on Clinton's email server -- won't matter." -- CW

By Driftglass.... Abby Phillip, et al., of the Washington Post: "Later at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump denounced Clinton's response to Comey, claiming that she sought to 'politicize' the FBI's actions by claiming wrongly that his letter was sent only to Republican lawmakers. It was sent to both Democrats and Republicans. 'The FBI would not have reopened this case at this time unless it was a most egregious criminal offense,' Trump said. 'Justice will prevail.' The new development could reshape the presidential election in its final days. Speaking at the campaign event, Trump -- interrupted by chants of 'lock her up!' -- said that the new FBI probe 'is bigger than Watergate.'" CW: That's pretty much the opposite of what Comey wrote in his letter, but thank goodness Trump himself would not "politicize" the FBI.

Ben White of Politico: "The U.S. economy grew at a nearly 3 percent pace in the third quarter of the year, a better-than-expected reading that dents Donald Trump's case that growth has stalled out. The faster pace of 2.9 percent may not hold up in the final quarter of 2016 but it offers a positive headline to Hillary Clinton less than two weeks until Election Day...." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Mark Sumner of Daily Kos: Donald Trump is stiffing his campaign "at a point where he had promised to 'triple match' contributions by his supporters.... [His] real cash contributions to his campaign was $0 in the first three weeks of the month." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "Even Trump's Kids Haven't Donated to His Campaign." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Election News

Trump Supporter Is First 2016 Voter Fraud Suspect. Paulina Firozi of the Hill: "A Republican woman in Iowa has been arrested on suspicion that she voted twice in the general election, according to a new report. Terri Lynn Rote, 55, was arrested and charged with first-degree election misconduct, The Des Moines Register reported. Rote allegedly voted early at an election office in Des Moines and then cast another ballot at a satellite voting location, according to police.... The Blaze noted Friday that the woman was an early supporter of ... Donald Trump." -- CW

Other News & Views

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Friday said it will decide whether the Obama administration may require public school systems to let transgender students use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, putting the court again at the center of a divisive social issue." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Well, Isn't This Speciial. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress. "On Thursday, news broke that Justice Clarence Thomas allegedly groped a 23 year-old woman at a dinner honoring Truman Scholars. And this is hardly the first time that a woman has come forward with similar allegations against Thomas. The justice famously faced sexual harassment allegations from his former employee Anita Hill during his confirmation hearing. Regardless of what may have occurred between Thomas and the women speaking out against him, his record as a justice suggests that he is not at all sympathetic to women's legal claims, especially in the context of sexual harassment. As a justice, Thomas has largely been hostile to litigants seeking to protect women's rights... And, in one of the most under-reported decisions of the last several years, he cast the key fifth vote to hobble the federal prohibition on sexual harassment in the workplace. Akhilleus: Does that include high tech harassment? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Ryan Hutchins of Politico: "Closing arguments in the trial of two former Chris Christie aides accused of closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge began on Friday morning, with federal prosecutors saying the two defendants took their loyalty to Christie to such an extreme that they subjected average residents to a bizarre 'political game.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Matt Friedman of Politico: "Once a GOP star, [Chris Christie's] fortunes have plummeted since the high point of his landslide re-election in 2013, and now look to be nearing rock-bottom as an aide's trial leads to embarrassing revelations about his possible complicity in the notorious lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Budget and infrastructure setbacks have wrecked his narrative of a renewed New Jersey. His failed presidential bid made him a punchline in his deep-blue home state, and his subsequent embrace of Trump has only made things worse. Christie is now in the awkward position of trying to distance himself from the candidate, even as he reportedly remains a key behind-the-scenes player.... And looming over everything is the sordid election-season revenge plot known as Bridgegate, which has been thrust back into the headlines in recent weeks by the trial of two of Christie's former subordinates -- and which has gone even worse for the governor than generally expected." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Derek Hawkins of the Washington Post: "A months-long standoff over the Dakota Access oil pipeline took a violent turn Thursday, when law enforcement officers used pepper spray and high-pitched warning tones to force protesters from a camp on private land in the pipeline's path in North Dakota, and at least one demonstrator opened fire on police, authorities said. Hundreds of local police officers and National Guard soldiers in riot gear began closing in on the protesters at midday, slowly advancing on the camp of about 200 with trucks and military Humvees, arresting people who refused to leave. By the end of the day, at least 141 protesters had been arrested, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

This Gun Shop Owner is A'Skeert of You. Kira Lerner of Think Progress: "Paul Chandler, the owner of Altra Firearms in rural Jackson Center, Pennsylvania, says he turns customers away at his door who are Muslim or who are supporting Hillary Clinton for president. The 54-year-old business owner posted a sign on the door of Altra Firearms conveying those rules, and he's currently running an ad in a local newspaper declaring: 'Please NO Muslims or Hillary Supporters  -- We do not feel safe selling to terrorists!'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Thursday
Oct272016

The Commentariat -- October 28, 2016

Afternoonish Update:

** Comey's October Surprise Is One Helluva a Friday Afternoon News Dump. Adam Goldman, et al., of the New York Times: "Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner. The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case -- one federal official said they numbered in the thousands -- potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election. In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they 'appear to be pertinent to the investigation.' Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to 'determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.' He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant." Thanks to Victoria for the heads-up. -- CW ...

... The Washington Post's story, by Rosalind Helderman & others, is here. "As the news broke, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 150 points." CW: Thanks how much the markets like Trump. ...

... CW: I must say I never guessed something as insignificant as Anthony's Weiner's dick would lead to the downfall of the United States. But there you go. ...

... Michele Gorman & Matthew Cooper of Newsweek: "Comey's letter doesn't say his agents have discovered new witnesses or documents suggesting a criminal act occurred. Rather, he only suggests that evidence that had not yet been examined and, because it was relevant to the case, needs to be reviewed.... In his letter, Comey did not use the phrase being touted by Republicans that the case had been reopened. Technically it was never closed. Nor did he signal at all about the importance or unimportance about the emails.... 'I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,' Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire early Friday afternoon. 'This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understood. And it is everybody's hope that it is about to be corrected.' [CW: Notice how he completely mischaracterizes Comey's letter.] House Speaker Paul Ryan called for an end to classified briefings for Clinton." Thanks to Haley S. for the link. -- CW

It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. -- John Podesda, Clinton campaign chair, in a statement

Comey needs to provide full info immediately. Otherwise he has clearly made a partisan intervention, betraying his office. -- Paul Krugman, in a tweet

Journalist Twitter is full of shock at FBI behavior here. That same shock should make it into news reports; not doing so misleads public -- Paul Krugman, in a tweet

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Friday said it will decide whether the Obama administration may require public school systems to let transgender students use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, putting the court again at the center of a divisive social issue." -- CW

Ben White of Politico: "The U.S. economy grew at a nearly 3 percent pace in the third quarter of the year, a better-than-expected reading that dents Donald Trump's case that growth has stalled out. The faster pace of 2.9 percent may not hold up in the final quarter of 2016 but it offers a positive headline to Hillary Clinton less than two weeks until Election Day...." -- CW

Mark Sumner of Daily Kos: Donald Trump is stiffing his campaign "at a point where he had promised to 'triple match' contributions by his supporters.... [His] real cash contributions to his campaign was $0 in the first three weeks of the month." -- CW ...

... Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "Even Trump's Kids Haven't Donated to His Campaign." -- CW

Ryan Hutchins of Politico: "Closing arguments in the trial of two former Chris Christie aides accused of closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge began on Friday morning, with federal prosecutors saying the two defendants took their loyalty to Christie to such an extreme that they subjected average residents to a bizarre 'political game.'" -- CW ...

... Matt Friedman of Politico: "Once a GOP star, [Chris Christie's] fortunes have plummeted since the high point of his landslide re-election in 2013, and now look to be nearing rock-bottom as an aide's trial leads to embarrassing revelations about his possible complicity in the notorious lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Budget and infrastructure setbacks have wrecked his narrative of a renewed New Jersey. His failed presidential bid made him a punchline in his deep-blue home state, and his subsequent embrace of Trump has only made things worse. Christie is now in the awkward position of trying to distance himself from the candidate, even as he reportedly remains a key behind-the-scenes player.... And looming over everything is the sordid election-season revenge plot known as Bridgegate, which has been thrust back into the headlines in recent weeks by the trial of two of Christie's former subordinates -- and which has gone even worse for the governor than generally expected." -- CW

Well, Isn't This Speciial. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress. "On Thursday, news broke that Justice Clarence Thomas allegedly groped a 23 year-old woman at a dinner honoring Truman Scholars. And this is hardly the first time that a woman has come forward with similar allegations against Thomas. The justice famously faced sexual harassment allegations from his former employee Anita Hill during his confirmation hearing. Regardless of what may have occurred between Thomas and the women speaking out against him, his record as a justice suggests that he is not at all sympathetic to women's legal claims, especially in the context of sexual harassment. As a justice, Thomas has largely been hostile to litigants seeking to protect women's rights... And, in one of the most under-reported decisions of the last several years, he cast the key fifth vote to hobble the federal prohibition on sexual harassment in the workplace. Akhilleus: Does that include high tech harassment?

Derek Hawkins of the Washington Post: "A months-long standoff over the Dakota Access oil pipeline took a violent turn Thursday, when law enforcement officers used pepper spray and high-pitched warning tones to force protesters from a camp on private land in the pipeline's path in North Dakota, and at least one demonstrator opened fire on police, authorities said. Hundreds of local police officers and National Guard soldiers in riot gear began closing in on the protesters at midday, slowly advancing on the camp of about 200 with trucks and military Humvees, arresting people who refused to leave. By the end of the day, at least 141 protesters had been arrested, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office." -- CW

This Gun Shop Owner is A'Skeert of You. Kira Lerner of Think Progress: "Paul Chandler, the owner of Altra Firearms in rural Jackson Center, Pennsylvania, says he turns customers away at his door who are Muslim or who are supporting Hillary Clinton for president. The 54-year-old business owner posted a sign on the door of Altra Firearms conveying those rules, and he's currently running an ad in a local newspaper declaring: 'Please NO Muslims or Hillary Supporters  --  We do not feel safe selling to terrorists!'" -- CW

*****

** The Definition of Jury Nullification. Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian: "A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility. Kenneth Medenbach was found not guilty of stealing government property, and a hung jury was declared on Ryan Bundy's charge of theft of FBI surveillance cameras." -- CW ...

... AP & Seattle Times: "The trial had a chaotic, dramatic end as Ammon Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford argued his client should be released from confinement while U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown said he must be returned to the custody of federal marshals, since he still faced charges in Nevada. Mumford's protests grew louder and louder until he was finally tackled and tased by marshals.... The judge ordered the courtroom cleared." -- CW ...

... Leah Sottile of the Washington Post: "The jury was hung on the charge of theft of government cameras against Ryan Bundy. Ammon and Ryan Bundy will remain in custody over charges they face in Nevada -- where they will stand trial for the 2014 standoff with Bureau of Land Management officers on the family's ranch. The men will be transferred to Nevada, where their father, Cliven, is currently incarcerated, officials said." -- CW ...

... Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian: "That an all-white jury would acquit an all-white band of armed protesters of all wrongdoing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff riled people across America, many of whom pointed to counter-examples that they say prove a similar band of blacks or Latinos would never have been cleared. The scenes of white Malheur refuge occupiers walking free on the same day that police and National Guard officers used mace and batons to arrest and drive away unarmed Native Americans protesting an oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation raised particular ire. The acquittals also follow police action against a diverse group of protesters in Portland who opposed a recently approved police union contract." -- CW ...

... German Lopez of Vox: "The verdict is completely absurd.... The militants staged their protest because they want to get federal employees out of these lands.... It is impossible to ignore race here. This was a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?" -- CW

Presidential Race

Scott Clement & Emily Gustin of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump has gained on Hillary Clinton during the past week, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll, solidifying support among core Republican groups as well as political independents.... Clinton holds a slight 48-44 percent edge over Trump among likely voters, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 1 percent in the survey completed Sunday through Wednesday." -- CW ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker argues that Trump won't enjoy a Brexit-like surge & prevail November 8. CW: I remain superstitious.

Abby Phillip, et al., of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump raised about half as much as Hillary Clinton for his presidential campaign committee in the first 19 days of October, putting him at a severe financial disadvantage in the crucial final days of the White House contest, campaign finance reports filed late Thursday show.... And there was scant evidence that [Trump] ... will end up giving the $100 million he has repeatedly claimed he is donating to his bid. Trump gave his campaign about $31,000 in in-kind contributions in the first 19 days of the month -- down from the $2 million a month in cash he had been donating. Trump's total personal contributions to his campaign currently total a little more than $56 million." -- CW

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "In their first joint campaign appearance on Thursday, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton made a public show of sisterhood and mutual admiration as the current first lady, a star on the campaign trail, sought to use her soaring popularity to boost the former first lady into the Oval Office." -- CW ...

... Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times: "On Thursday..., First Lady Michelle Obama ... compared [Hillary] Clinton's trajectory as potentially the first female president to the historic role played by her husband. The U.S., she said, was not only the place where a 'biracial kid from Hawaii' could win the White House, but where the 'daughter of an orphan can break that highest, hardest glass ceiling.'... It was the first campaign appearance featuring both Clinton and the first lady, whose passionate stump speeches have helped frame opposition to Republican nominee Donald Trump. In an arena [in Winston-Salem, N.C.,] packed with 11,000 supporters..., Obama acknowledged that it's 'unprecedented' for a first lady to campaign as much as she has." -- CW

How one tax-exempt student newspaper got around the prohibition against engaging in political activity: "The Yale Record believes both candidates to be equally un-endorsable, due to our faithful compliance with the tax code. In particular, we do not endorse Hillary Clinton's exemplary leadership during her 30 years in the public eye. We do not support her impressive commitment to serving and improving this country -- a commitment to which she has dedicated her entire professional career. Because of unambiguous tax law, we do not encourage you to support the most qualified presidential candidate in modern American history, nor do we encourage all citizens to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all by electing Secretary Clinton on November 8." Via Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly. -- CW

Tim Egan: "At least one of my siblings, and some of my friends from high school, will be among the 50 million or so Americans waking up on Nov. 9 after giving their vote to a man who thinks very little of them, and even less of the country he wants to lead. Allow me one last attempt to help you avoid a hangover that will stay with you the rest of your life." -- CW

And just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? What are we having it for? -- Donald Trump, arguing that elections are unnecessary, at a rally in Toledo, Ohio, Thursday ...

... If you think a President Trump might "just cancel" the 2020 election, you're probably right. And he would probably speak of himself in the third person when he announced he was accepting a second term by his own proclamation. -- Constant Weader

By Driftglass.Jose DelReal & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "As he heads into a potential loss on Nov. 8, Trump has expanded the scale and scope of his accusations [about how the election is 'rigged'] to include ... Hillary Clinton, the media, establishment leaders from both parties and unidentified 'global financial powers.' 'When the people who control the political power in our society can rig investigations like [Clinton's] investigation was rigged, can rig polls, you see the phony polls, and rig the media, they can wield absolute power over your life, your economy and your country and benefit big-time by it,' Trump told a crowd this week in St. Augustine, Fla. 'They control what you hear and what you don't hear, what is covered, how it's covered, even if it's covered at all.' The 'power structure' he describes ... includes banking institutions, the judiciary, media conglomerates, voting security experts, Democratic tricksters, scientific polling and also perhaps military leaders. He has also accused Clinton of meeting 'with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends and her donors.' By emphasizing such rhetoric, the GOP nominee -- who has a history of circulating unsubstantiated accusations -- has sown distrust in basic democratic institutions among his supporters." -- CW

Joshua Green & Sasha Issenberg of Bloomberg go inside the Trump campaign, and it's more organized (as a money-making machine) -- and uglier -- than you might have imagined. Under the leadership of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, the campaign, with the help of the Republican National Committee, has built a sophisticated donor-base digital operation for use both before & after the election, which means Trump is not planning to go away. In the meantime, a senior campaign official says, "We have three major voter suppression operations under way." The aim is to discourage voting among "idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.... If the election results cause the party to fracture, Trump will be better positioned than the RNC to reach this mass of voters because he'll own the [donor] list himself -- and [RNC chair Reince] Priebus, after all he's endured, will become just the latest to invest with Trump and wind up poorer for the experience." ...

... OR, as Jonathan Chait puts it, "... Steve Bannon and other members of the Trump inner circle have to transition their campaign into a white-nationalist media organization after the campaign. Bannon came from Breitbart news, which he turned from a right-wing site with frequent racist overtones into a racist site with Republican overtones. He has helped merge Trump's campaign into the messaging operation he built, reorienting the conservative agenda around its xenophobic element. It is difficult to overestimate what a nightmare this would pose to the regular GOP should it come to fruition.... The Republicans built a monster to stave off defeat in the 2016 election. And that monster may torment them for years to come." -- CW ...

... Anne Laurie of Balloon Juice: "Steve Bannon and his fellow 'alt right' racists are using the Trump campaign as a shell to grab customers frustrated with the GOP brand.... The 'Trump campaign' is no longer about winning voters (if it ever was). It's about market share." -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "Unless the whole thing is some kind of Potemkin fundraising scam, and I do not dismiss that possibility entirely, any hope that the Republican establishment has of hand-waving Trumpism into ancient history is clearly doomed.... Suppressing minority voters -- rather than, say, earning their support with something beyond 'What have you got to lose?' -- is now as conventional a piece of Republican electoral strategy as tax cuts and fetus-fondling are. This is true at all levels, from the local polling place all the way up to the Supreme Court, and has been for quite some time. Hell, it was how William Rehnquist got his start in Republican politics and he went on to a sweet career, if I recall correctly. So having a senior official come clean on it is a nice detail to have, and it will make a lot of noise and, if American democracy continues its historic run of luck, the revelation will piss off enough people at whom the strategy is aimed to bury it under a landslide. I'm not betting heavy either way on that one." -- CW ...

... Kevin Drum Is Underwhelmed: "Ahem. For those of you new to American elections, allow me to blogsplain. This is called 'negative campaigning.' It is designed to make ones opponent look bad, and it has been a feature of every US election since -- well, roughly forever. The fact that a 'senior official' calls this voter suppression doesn't mean that it is. It just means that the Trump folks are amateurs who are laughably ignorant about what a 'major' operation of any kind actually looks like in a modern presidential campaign." -- CW ...

... Steve M.: "But here's what's not standard: '... neither Trump's campaign nor the RNC has prioritized registering and mobilizing the 47 million eligible white voters without college degrees who are Trump's most obvious source of new votes....' Right -- Team Trump isn't bothering to reach out to the unmotivated in the hope of persuading them to be Trump voters. That's what you do if you want to win an election. But maybe that's not what you do if you're really more interested in building a list of Trump hero-worshippers who might be the target market for future Trump-branded products.... I don't think the long-term post-defeat plan is to build a political movement. I think Trump-branded products will increasingly be marketed to Trump admirers." -- CW

Droit du Seigneur, Ctd. Scott Bixby of the Guardian: "A former beauty queen has become the 12th woman to openly accuse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual assault. Ninni Laaksonen, a former Miss Finland in the Miss Universe competition that Trump once owned, alleged in an interview with the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that Trump groped her before an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2006. 'Before the show we were photographed outside the building,' Laaksonen said, according to a translation provided by The Telegraph. 'Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt.... Somebody told me there that Trump liked me because I looked like Melania when she was younger,' Laaksonen said. 'It left me disgusted.'" -- CW

Senate Race

New GOP Rule: If one parent was born outside the U.S., you're not a "real American," no matter what. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "In a stunning moment during a Thursday night debate, an embattled U.S. senator cast doubt on his opponent's military and ethnic heritage. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), seeking to unseat GOP Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois, invoked her family's military service while answering a debate question. 'My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution,' Duckworth said. 'I am a daughter of the American Revolution. I've bled for this nation....' Kirk was offered a chance to rebut. 'I'd forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,' he said. Duckworth's mother, Lamai, is Thai, but her late father, Franklin, was a Marine veteran whose family roots in this country trace to before the American Revolution. Tammy Duckworth was severely wounded in the Iraq War.... Democrats immediately slammed Kirk for the attack. A spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called the remark 'offensive, wrong, and racist.'" -- CW

Election News

Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "The North Carolina conference of the NAACP is threatening the state with lawsuits after reports poured in about hours-long early voting lines and the improper removal of elderly voters from the rolls less than two weeks before Election Day. 'We will invoke legal action if necessary to stop this runaway train,' North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber told reporters on a conference call." -- CW

Other News & Views

Lydia Wheeler & Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama has commuted the sentences of 98 inmates, the White House announced Thursday. It was Obama's eighth round of commutations this year, bringing him to a total of 872 since taking office -- more than the past 11 presidents combined. He's commuted the sentences of 688 inmates this year alone." -- CW

David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "The spike in premiums [on the ACA exchanges] is a sign that not enough healthy people are signing up for the exchanges. Without healthy people to balance out the sick, insurance stops being insurance and becomes terribly expensive. The basic solution is straightforward. It involves increasing the subsidies for lower-income families -- while also increasing the penalties for people who refuse to sign up for health insurance." -- CW ...

... Paul Krugman: "The people who have been claiming all along that reform couldn't work, and have been wrong every step of the way, are, of course, claiming vindication. But they're wrong again. The bad news is real. But so are reform's accomplishments, which won't go away even if nothing is done to fix the problems now appearing. And technically, if not politically, those problems are quite easy to fix." -- CW

Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: The federal government plans to house immigrant detainees in a privately-run facility it deems unfit for American prisoners: "When the Justice Department announced two months ago that it wanted to end the use of private prisons, Cibola County Correctional Center was exactly the kind of facility that officials desired to shut down. After a history of questionable deaths and substandard medical care, the New Mexico facility lost its contract. In recent weeks, it was emptied of inmates.... As soon as this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- which is separate from the Justice Department -- is going to begin moving immigrant detainees into the facility under a new set of agreements with Corrections Corporation of America, a county official said.... Those detainees are not criminals, but often people who have fled countries where violence has grown rampant." -- CW

Burgess Everett of Politico: "Senate Republicans are choosing sides ahead of a brutal conflict over how to handle the lingering Supreme Court vacancy, with Jeff Flake firing back Thursday at a suggestion by Ted Cruz that the party could indefinitely block any nominee from Hillary Clinton. The internal GOP battle over what to do about Merrick Garland -- President Barack Obama's choice for the court -- and any future Clinton nominee will dominate the lame duck session of Congress after the election." -- CW ...

... ** Dahlia Lithwick: "With threats now emanating from the Senate to continue this blockade indefinitely, it's time for the chief justice to weigh in.... What can John Roberts say?... He can say, in the most sober, measured, and nonpartisan fashion that the court needs nine justices. He can note that although the court began with six justices -- and from 1863 to 1866 had 10 -- the Judiciary Act of 1869 stipulated that the court be made of nine justices. He can note what happened to FDR when he attempted to pack the court in 1937 and observe parenthetically that this revolt came from the American public. He can also point out that fluctuations in the authorized strength of the court came with changes in the circuit courts, not recreational obstruction in the Senate." -- CW

Tierney Sneed of TPM: "A 41-year-old lawyer has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999 when she was a young foundation fellow in Washington, D.C., National Law Journal reported Thursday. The lawyer, Moira Smith, said that Thomas repeatedly touched her rear multiple times as he pleaded for her to sit next to him at a dinner party hosted by the head of her scholarship program. The alleged incident occurred, Smith said, when just the two of them were alone near the table she was setting for the party. Four people who knew Smith at the time confirmed to National Law Journal that they recalled her recounting the incident to them soon after it happened. Thomas denied the claim." -- CW.

Beyond the Beltway

Ryan Hutchins & Katie Jennings of Politico: New Jersey "Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno staked her independence from Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday morning, in a highly public break with the governor.... In a radio interview..., Guadagno ... contradict[ed] the administration's position on a major ballot measure by suggesting voters can blow up a hard-won $16 billion infrastructure plan by opposing the amendment. Less than 15 minutes after Guadagno's remarks on New Jersey 101.5 FM, the governor's office emailed reporters saying that 'it must be a misunderstanding'.... But, as Guadagno quickly made clear, there was no misunderstanding. At a news conference in Trenton on Thursday afternoon, she said she 'was concerned and did my own research and took my own position.'" -- CW

News Lede

Washington Post: "The figures released by the Commerce Department indicate the economy is picking up steam after a slow first half of the year. In the second quarter, the economy had grown at a disappointing annual pace of only 1.4 percent." That's a good headline for Democrats.

Wednesday
Oct262016

The Commentariat -- October 27, 2016

CW: I have wondered throughout the campaign why we haven't heard more war stories about Donald Trump's college career. We know a lot about Hillary's; we learned (to our surprise!) that Ted Cruz was a major pain in the ass even then; we heard Marco Rubio had a checkered college career; we learned Jeb! met his wife on a college excursion, and so forth. So how is it possible we missed Donald's brilliant career -- he's like a really smart person -- as an undergrad at the Wharton School? Well, I just found some archived material that explains it all:

*****

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "Trump's share of the vote has increased, as he's picked up undecided and third-party voters, probably as the result of Republicans' returning home after a disastrous series of weeks for Trump this month. Clinton, however, is at least holding steady and probably also improving her own numbers somewhat." -- CW

     ... Via Greg Sargent.

Mitch Perry of Florida Politics: "Hillary Clinton celebrated her 69th birthday by giving a speech in downtown Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, just as the polls are getting tighter between herself and Donald Trump.... Job one of her address was to remind voters that early voting has begun and that they need to get to the polls." -- CW

Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times: "... Tim Kaine courted Utah Mormons by describing his experiences as a missionary, further evidence that the longtime Republican stronghold state is in play this election.... Utah last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate more than a half-century ago. But in recent polls, GOP nominee Donald Trump has been running neck and neck with independent candidate Evan McMullin, with both of them edging Hillary Clinton." -- CW

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "With the polish of a seasoned politician, Khizr Khan strode through the door of a seafood restaurant to the serenade of clicking cameras, clasped hands with cheering Democratic lawmakers and, as he has become famous for doing, unflinchingly argued that Donald J. Trump must not be president. To the naked eye, Mr. Khan, whose son was an American soldier killed in Iraq and who skewered Mr. Trump at the Democratic National Convention, could have been mistaken for someone running for office. But as he made his first appearance on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, he said his mission was greater than politics." CW: I would say Humayun Khan learned heroism at home.

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton has spoken for years of the 'glass ceiling.'... Dispensing with subtlety, Mrs. Clinton's campaign said on Wednesday that it would ring in election night at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the unglamorous glass fortress on Manhattan's West Side." -- CW

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Accepting that his presidential bid will fail, Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld on Tuesday obliquely urged voters to vote for Hillary Clinton. In a Tuesday statement addressed to 'those in the electorate who remain torn between two so-called major party candidates,' the former Massachusetts governor told Republicans not to vote for the GOP nominee out of 'fear for our country.' 'After careful observation and reflection, I have come to believe that Donald Trump, if elected President of the United States, would not be able to stand up to this pressure and this criticism without becoming unhinged and unable to perform competently the duties of his office,' he said at a Boston press conference.... 'This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining.' Though Weld goes on to mention Trump by name, his comments could also describe [Weld's running mate Gary] Johnson, who captured headlines with his bumbling responses to foreign policy questions and odd interview antics." -- CW

Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump on Wednesday pledged what he called a 'new deal for black America' as he attempted to make late inroads with a voting bloc that polling shows favors Democrat Hillary Clinton by a vast margin. 'I will be your greatest champion,' Trump said during an campaign rally [in Charlotte, N.C]. 'I will never ever take the African American community for granted. Never, ever.' In a scripted speech heavy on policy specifics, the Republican presidential nominee laid out a plan that he said is built on setting up better schools, lowering crime in inner cities and creating more high-paying jobs." --CW

Donald Knows Best. Nicki Rossoll of ABC News: "Donald Trump went on the offensive against a military expert and former dean of the Army War College, Jeff McCausland, who said the Republican nominee's comments this weekend about the battle to reclaim Mosul in Iraq show he doesn't have a firm grasp of military strategy. 'You can tell your military expert that I'll sit down and I'll teach him a couple of things,' Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos...." CW: Giving credit where credit is due, Trump did learn in military school how to march in formation, make up a bunk & keep his locker neat, lifeskills I doubt he has put into practice in the last half-century.

It's So Unfaaaair:

... Ed O'Keefe & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump made a detour to Washington on Wednesday to officially christen a downtown hotel bearing his name.... Aides insisted it was a non-campaign event, but when Trump took the stage he railed against bloated military hospital construction projects, blasted Obamacare price spikes and congratulated former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for sparring Tuesday night with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in a contentious primetime interview. 'That was an amazing interview,' Trump said as he pointed at Gingrich. 'We don't play games, Newt, right? We don't play games.'" -- CW: See part of the "amazing interview" in yesterday's Commentariat. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "Cable news producers haven't forgotten Sept. 16. That was the day that media outlets were told to expect a Donald Trump announcement on the birther issue.... So the media congregated for a news conference at Trump's new hotel in Washington, D.C.... The networks covered the event from the very start." What they got was a 30-minutes infomercial for the hotel, followed by a brief statement in which "Trump admits that the president of the United States was born in the United States. Cable news, punked.... [Wednesday] Trump gathered the media for ... a ribbon-cutting for that same hotel. This time, cable news wasn't playing along. All three major cable news networks -- CNN, MSNBC and Fox News -- pretty much skipped live coverage of Trump's remarks." -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "It's apt that Donald Trump's new hotel in Washington, which he dedicated at a ribbon-cutting Wednesday, is at the Old Post Office. Just 13 days before the election, Trump is mailing it in.... Trump looks in the closing days of the election as he did when he began -- like a publicity-mad billionaire on a lark. He put the country through hell, stoking grievances in millions, and now, in the end, he's looking out for No 1." -- CW

Bird Man. And [wind turbines] kill all the birds [False]. I don't know if you know that.... Thousands of birds are lying on the ground. And the eagle. You know, certain parts of California -- they've killed so many eagles [False]. You know, they put you in jail if you kill an eagle. And yet these windmills [kill] them by the hundreds [False]. -- Donald Trump, on Herman Cain's radio show, Tuesday

Those [False] notations come from Katie Herzog of Grist. Trump said a lot more about energy sources, so Herzog was obliged to insert quite a few more fact-checks.

Gail Collins wonders if Trump has given up. CW: I don't think so.

Get to Know Your Presidential Candidate. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times talks with Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio in two podcasts. Includes Trump and Family in Their Own Words! CW: Sorry, but long ago I learned I didn't want to get to know Donald Trump.

Trump[s election is going to be the biggest 'fuck you' ever recorded in human history -- and it will feel good. Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he's saying the things to people who are hurting, and that's why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they've been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them. -- Michael Moore ...

... Matthew Sheffield of Salon: "Despite most indicators showing Donald Trump well behind his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the key states he needs to win the Nov. 8 presidential election, populist filmmaker Michael Moore has long argued that the Republican nominee has more support than people may think. At a recent promotional event for his new film 'Michael Moore in TrumpLand,' Moore told audience members that he thinks the loudmouthed GOP nominee is going to win, largely because American elites are so cut off from regular people that they don't realize just how much the middle class has been harmed in recent years." -- CW ...

... CW: I don't know that Trump will win, but I am afraid the results will be much closer than the Clinton blowout some are suggesting (and most of us hope for). I suspect plenty of people, especially men, won't admit to pollsters ("what if my wife is listening!") they will vote for Trump, particularly with the type of publicity he has been getting in the last month. There is a huge shame factor in voting for Donald Trump, and the secret ballot is the magic cover. Even though it appears more Democrats are voting early, they are not all voting for Hillary Clinton. ...

... Ashley Parker & Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: "New York Times reporters spoke to people attending Trump rallies in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In every crowd, there were supporters who echoed Mr. Trump's message that the polls do not reflect the 'silent majority' who they say will turn out on Nov. 8 and elect him in a landslide." If Trump loses, some of his supporters, "worry that they will be forgotten, along with their concerns and frustrations. Others believe the nation may be headed for violent conflict." -- CW

Meet Your Republican "Leaders." Cristiano Lima of Politico: "Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz again reversed his position on Donald Trump's presidential candidacy on Wednesday night, saying he'd vote for the Republican nominee but wouldn't endorse him.... [Chaffetz] had previously backed Trump's candidacy before withdrawing his endorsement on Oct. 8.... Chaffetz is one of six Republican members of Congress who have recommitted to voting for Trump after yanking their support, along with Sens. Mike Crapo, Deb Fischer and John Thune and Reps. Scott Garrett and Bradley Byrne." CW: See also Diane's comment at the top of today's thread.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: Fox "News" is having a Megyn Kelly moment. If Kelly stays with the network (she's in contract negotiations now), it could become less stridently Hannity-O'Reilly. ...

... Justin Baragona of Mediaite: "During a panel discussion on CNN tonight, anchor Anderson Cooper pointed out that the last person in the world who should be talking about people being 'fascinated with sex' due to his own personal history is Newt Gingrich.... 'For Newt Gingrich to accuse Megyn Kelly of being fascinated by sex,' Cooper stated. 'This is a guy, who's what, on his third marriage, cheated on his first two wives and was having an affair when he was impeaching Bill Clinton. Isn't that right?'" -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Wherein Mark Halperin, star of MSNBC & Bloomberg, "interviews" Donald Trump: "Oooh, Mr. Trump what big hands you have," or something like that.

Election News

Matt Friedman of Politico: "Democrats are asking a federal judge to block the Republican National Committee from coordinating with Donald Trump's campaign on 'ballot security' efforts, saying the RNC is violating a decades old legal agreement that bars the group from tactics that critics call voter intimidation. In a motion filed in New Jersey federal court on Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee charges that the RNC has violated the consent decree 'by supporting and enabling the efforts of the Republican candidate for President, Donald J. Trump, as well as his campaign and advisors, to intimidate and discourage minority voters from voting in the 2016 Presidential Election.'" -- CW ...

... MEANWHILE. Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post: "Vote Protectors [-- a group that supports Donald Trump & is associated with conspiracy theorist & dirty trickster Roger Stone --] plans to issue fake ID badges to its volunteers, who intend to travel to cities with large minority populations and conduct phony 'exit polls' on Election Day." -- CW

Kira Lerner of Think Progress: Those "roughly 45,000 newly registered voters in Indiana  --  almost all of whom are black --  [still] may not be allowed to vote next month after state police targeted the state's largest voter registration drive, forcing it to shut down its operation." CW: As Lerner lays out, this is a GOP-run scam, led by mike pence, "who has pushed the 'voter fraud' conspiracy on the campaign trail alongside Donald Trump." The voter registration group has asked the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to intervene. So where is the DOJ??? ...

... Jaweed Kaleem of the Los Angeles Times has a fairly comprehensive review of voter fraud allegations & the outcomes of investigations, where completed. The "fraud" in each of these cases was either bureaucratic incompetence, possible bureaucratic interference, or Trump, pence & other Republicans making up crazy shit.

Other News & Views

Connor O'Brien of Politico: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter has suspended collections and ordered a review of the process that's forcing members of the California National Guard to repay enlistment bonuses that may have been paid improperly. In a statement issued Wednesday, the Pentagon chief called the process 'unfair to service members and to taxpayers.'" -- CW

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "For the first time in a quarter-century, the United States abstained Wednesday in the annual United Nations vote condemning the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the embargo was fully within international law but that it was 'a perfect example of why the U.S. policy of isolation toward Cuba was not working.' She said that 'instead of isolating Cuba ... our policy isolated the United States, including here at the United Nations.'" -- CW

The Continued Radicalization of the Right. Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Speaking to reporters after a campaign rally for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate [in Colorado], Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said that there was 'precedent' for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices -- appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election.... Several conservative legal writers have argued that the threat of a Clinton presidency should get Republicans thinking about a long-term blockade on nominees." -- CW ...

... Here's some "intellectual" crackpot named Ilya Shapiro writing for the righty-right-wing Federalist: "The Senate should refuse to confirm all of Hillary Clinton's judicial nominees." -- CW

... CW: If you want a federal government that functions as anything other than one big Fake Investigatory Mob, vote for Democratic candidates, no matter how bad they are. ...

... ** Linda Greenhouse reflects on the rule of law and what Republicans have done to upend it. AND she wrote her column before Ted Cruz & various other crackpots weighed in with their bright ideas about gutting the courts. ...

... Dave Weigel: "Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, un-endorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed up him to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton. 'It's a target-rich environment,' said Chaffetz in a interview in Salt Lake City's suburbs. 'Even before we get to Day One, we've got two years worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain't good.'... And other Republican leaders say they support Chaffetz's efforts -- raising the specter of more partisan acrimony between them and the White House for the next four years." CW: Congressional Democrats must figure out a way to stop this shit. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Confederates Waste No Time With More Pointless Investigations. Alex Seitz-Wald Benjy Sarlin of NBC News: "In the last few weeks alone, dozens of House Republicans have demanded that a special prosecutor investigate the Clinton Foundation for possible conflicts of interest. Sen. Ted Cruz has called for a 'serious criminal investigation' into a Democratic operative featured in a sting video by conservative activist James O'Keefe. And Speaker Paul Ryan promised 'aggressive oversight work in the House'... Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who would likely serve as the chief antagonist of a second Clinton White House as chair the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News last week the 'quid pro quo' claim alone was worth at least 'four new hearings,'... 'This is exactly what Americans hate about Washington. Before the election has even taken place, Jason Chaffetz is already planning to further abuse his office and waste more taxpayer dollars on political witch hunts against the potential President-elect,' said Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: As it has done for the last eight years and for most of the first Clinton presidency, the Confederate Party will spend its time wasting millions of taxpayer dollars investigating investigations that are currently investigating other investigations. "Four new hearings"? Why not make it 44? After holding 125 hearings on the Benghazi bullshit and coming up with zilch, the spoiled brats in the House will give it another try. In other words, if Hillary wins, they'll make sure she spends most of her time bouncing from one shady investigation to another. The Republican Way. ...

... Steve M.: There is "a general sense among some observers that the GOP is going to be one big circular firing squad.... But Dave Weigel's story today in the Post suggests to me that Trumpites and Trump skeptics will probably kiss and make up soon, united around their new shared goal: destroying Hillary Clinton by any means necessary.... The long-term danger for the establishment is that Trump voters might consider [Paul] Ryan et al. to be failures if the new president isn't literally in prison by the time of the 2018 midterms.... Call their value system "personal survival over country." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "... Republican candidates are ... warning against the dangers of a 'blank check' for Hillary Clinton that might come from electing Democrats for Congress.... Go ahead and vote for Clinton, but split your ticket to vote for me, too. The problem is that ticket-splitting is a recipe for everything people say they hate about Washington.... The problem isn't that 'Washington' can't get anything done these days, it's that we have a Democratic president that Republicans have sworn to oppose in all things. We may wind up with exactly the same thing after November's election. But if that's what you voted for, you don't get to complain." -- CW

Scott Higman & Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post: "Two senators asked Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Wednesday to explain a sharp drop in the number of enforcement actions against large pharmaceutical distributors and others by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) requested a wide variety of information about cases brought by DEA's Diversion Control Division in the wake of a Washington Post investigation published over the weekend. The DEA division enforces laws written to prevent the diversion of opioid painkillers to the black market, where they can fall into the hands of substance abusers and drug dealers." CW: Hey, here are some senators doing their jobs. They're Democrats.

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Joe Walsh, who was a United States congressman from 2011 until 2013, declared on Wednesday afternoon that he will take up arms if Donald Trump is not elected to the presidency.... For the record, Walsh's apparent plan to form a band of individuals to take up arms against the lawfully elected leader of the United States most likely meets the legal definition of treason.... Though treason prosecutions are unusual, previous federal cases have allowed such prosecutions to move forward when armed individuals join together against the United States." -- CW ...

... Steve M.: "The problem with this sort of cheap talk is that people who are less inhibited (and angrier, and crazier, and more hate-filled) are getting ideas from it. It's making some people feel they have license to do what Walsh pretends he'll do if Hillary Clinton wins. Walsh is too soft-bellied to actually engage in violence, so he's just goading others to do it instead. He's a reprehensible rabble-rouser and a coward." -- CW

We're More Weapons-Crazy Than Ever. Art Swift of Gallup: "The fewest Americans in 20 years favor making it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles. Thirty-six percent now want an assault weapons ban, down from 44% in 2012 and 57% when Gallup first asked the question in 1996." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Ted Sherman & Matt Arco of NJ.com: "After six weeks of testimony, dozens of witnesses and declarations of innocence from the two former Christie administration insiders now on trial, the defense in the Bridgegate scandal has rested. Summations are scheduled to begin on Thursday and the jury is expected to begin their deliberations on Monday.... In a final day of testimony, federal prosecutors continued to methodically chip away at [Bridget Anne] Kelly in her fourth day on the stand, focusing on the inconsistencies with what seven other witnesses told the jury." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "Whatever verdict is delivered in the Bridgegate trial, the picture of Mr. Christie and his administration that has been exposed is devastating. One can search the news accounts in vain for honorable motives, for openness and integrity, for a sense of 'public service' as that overworked term is understood.... Mr. Christie remained the offstage villain, the Mephistopheles of Trenton, but it was impossible for even casual trial observers not to discern, from witness after witness, the evident viciousness and grubbiness of the governor and his administration." -- CW

Craig McCarthy of NJ.com: "Police charged 10 people Wednesday in a protest on the George Washington Bridge that closed lanes and caused extensive delays during morning rush hour.... The immigrants' rights demonstration stopped upper-level traffic completely for about 15 minutes before police arrested the protesters, who chained themselves to the bridge, blocking three lanes. The demonstration caused up to 90-minute delays for drivers heading into the New York City. All lanes were reopened by 8:50 a.m." -- CW

Tuesday
Oct252016

The Commentariat -- October 26, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Ed O'Keefe & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump made a detour to Washington on Wednesday to officially christen a downtown hotel bearing his name.... Aides insisted it was a non-campaign event, but when Trump took the stage he railed against bloated military hospital construction projects, blasted Obamacare price spikes and congratulated former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for sparring Tuesday night with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in a contentious primetime interview. 'That was an amazing interview,' Trump said as he pointed at Gingrich. 'We don't play games, Newt, right? We don't play games.'" -- CW: See part of the "amazing interview" below.

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, un-endorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed up him to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton. 'It's a target-rich environment,' said Chaffetz in a interview in Salt Lake City's suburbs. 'Even before we get to Day One, we've got two years worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain't good.'... And other Republican leaders say they support Chaffetz's efforts -- raising the specter of more partisan acrimony between them and the White House for the next four years." ...

... Confederates Waste No Time With More Pointless Investigations. Alex Seitz-Wald & Benjy Sarlin of NBC News: "In the last few weeks alone, dozens of House Republicans have demanded that a special prosecutor investigate the Clinton Foundation for possible conflicts of interest. Sen. Ted Cruz has called for a 'serious criminal investigation' into a Democratic operative featured in a sting video by conservative activist James O'Keefe. And Speaker Paul Ryan promised 'aggressive oversight work in the House'... Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who would likely serve as the chief antagonist of a second Clinton White House as chair the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News last week the 'quid pro quo' claim alone was worth at least 'four new hearings,'" ...

     ... Akhilleus: As it has done for the last eight years and for most of the first Clinton presidency, the Confederate Party will spend its time wasting millions of taxpayer dollars investigating investigations that are currently investigating other investigations. "Four new hearings"? Why not make it 44? After holding 125 hearings on the Benghazi bullshit and coming up with zilch, the spoiled brats in the House will give it another try. In other words, if Hillary wins, they'll make sure she spends most of her time bouncing from one shady investigation to another. The Republican Way.

*****

Presidential Race

Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "Although ... Hillary Clinton holds what appears to be a durable three-point lead in crucial Florida, she warned supporters here Tuesday not to get too comfortable. Campaigning simultaneously with ... Donald Trump in the key battleground state that represents potentially his last, tenuous, chance to rebound and win the election, Clinton cautioned, 'It's going to be a close election. Pay no attention to the polls,' she said at a rally at Broward College's North Campus. 'Don't get complacent.'" -- CW ...

... John McCormick of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump has a slim advantage in Florida as critical independent voters narrowly break his way in the must-win battleground state, a Bloomberg Politics poll shows." CW: The Bloomberg poll is very good for Republicans; it has Marco Rubio up by 10 over Patrick Murphy. See also story linked under Senate Race below.

Donald Trump is attacking everything that has set our country apart for 240 years. After spending his entire campaign attacking one group of Americans after another: Immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, women, POWs, Muslim and people with disabilities. Now, his final target is democracy itself. -- Hillary Clinton, at a rally in Coconut Creek, Florida, Tuesday

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

Steve Eder of the New York Times: A new WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta's e-mail account shows how the Clinton campaign worked to control the damaging news that Clinton used a private server. Campaign staffers & supporters tried to protect both Clinton & President Obama, who had exchanged e-mails with Clinton that went to her private e-mail server. -- CW

By Driftglass.Steve Holland of Reuters: "... Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Democrat Hillary Clinton's plan for Syria would 'lead to World War Three,' because of the potential for conflict with military forces from nuclear-armed Russia. In an interview focused largely on foreign policy, Trump said defeating Islamic State is a higher priority than persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, playing down a long-held goal of U.S. policy. Trump questioned how Clinton would negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin after demonizing him; blamed President Barack Obama for a downturn in U.S. relations with the Philippines under its new president, Rodrigo Duterte [a vulgar, mass-murdering strongman]; bemoaned a lack of Republican unity behind his candidacy, and said he would easily win the election if the party leaders would support him." -- CW

Candace Smith of ABC News: "As Donald Trump campaigned in central Florida today, he made his usual appeal to African-Americans, painting a grim and partially inaccurate portrait of black communities. 'African-Americans are living in hell in the inner cities,' he said. 'They are living -- they are living in hell. You walk to the store for a loaf of bread you get shot.' But his comment today struck a particularly tone-deaf chord. Trump was in Sanford, Fla., where teenager Trayvon Martin had been killed four years earlier by a neighborhood watchman while walking home after getting a pack of Skittles." --safari: I particularly appreciate the inclusion of the qualifier "partially". Well played, Ms. Smith, we wouldn't want to mislead our readers.

More Lies. Guess Who? Jeremy Diamond, Julia Manchester & Ashley Killough, of CNN: "Donald Trump claimed Tuesday during an event with staff at his resort here that his employees are having issues with Obamacare -- an account contradicted by his property's general manager -- amid the news that President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation is facing soaring premiums. '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.' ...[BUT]... Clarifying Trump's remarks, the general manager of Trump's property in Doral, David Feder, said "99% of our employees are insured through our hotel." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Akhilleus: I guess Trump Math allows one to describe anything under 1% as 100%. In fact, it's very likely that the remaining 1% don't get any kind of health insurance. They're probably all illegal immigrants. Just Trump's way of Making America Great again. Oh, and I'm guessing Mr. Feder will be looking for a new job by tonight. ...

     ... Update. Eli Stokols of Politico: "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.

... Ian Millhiser "explains" Trump's "position" on affordable health care: "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

     ... Update. Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "The consequences of halting major fundraisers will compound the challenges facing a candidate and a party already straining to match Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's much larger and better-financed operation. Unlike Clinton, who has an extensive turnout operation of her own, Trump and many other GOP candidates down the ballot are relying heavily on the Republican National Committee to bring voters to the polls." -- CW ...

... All Hat & No Cattle-Ranching. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "According to the Federal Election Commission filings, Donald Trump's presidential campaign has spent $1.8 million on polling from June 2015 through September of this year (the most recent month for which data are available). The report also lists $3.2 million spent on hats.... Overall, Trump's spent about $15.3 million on collateral -- shirts, hats, signs, etc. -- more than he has spent on field consulting and voter lists and data.... The campaign in a nutshell." -- CW

Politics is a side hobby for Trump, kind of like fishing or model railroading. Hotels, that's serious business, and I hear the hotel is fabulous. Which of his aides would like to take credit for scheduling this trip to D.C.? Is no one able to stand up to this guy? No one at all? -- Curt Anderson, Republican strategist ...

... Maggie Haberman & Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: "As his poll numbers have declined in the closing weeks of the presidential race, Donald J. Trump has begun to engage in barely veiled promotions of his business brand off the campaign trail, dragging reporters to his marquee properties in between his campaign events. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump added an abrupt appearance at the Trump National Doral, one of his gilded golf courses and resorts in Florida.... On Wednesday..., Mr. Trump planned to attend a ribbon-cutting at his elaborately remade hotel at the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The stops are a remarkable display of personal promotion by a presidential nominee..., who ... is at least partly casting his eye past the 2016 race, and toward bolstering the brand that bears his name." -- CW

Oliver Milman of the Guardian: "Donald Trump's close financial ties to Energy Transfer Partners, operators of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline, have been laid bare, with the presidential candidate invested in the company and receiving more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from its chief executive. Trump's financial disclosure forms show the Republican nominee has between $500,000 and $1m invested in Energy Transfer Partners, with a further $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once completed.... Kelcy Warren, chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, has given $103,000 to elect Trump and handed over a further $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.... Trump has signaled his opposition to any restrictions on the development of oil, coal or gas, telling a crowd in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, last week that he would 'lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks to allow these vital energy infrastructure projects to go ahead'." ...

     ... CW: Don't worry people; Trump has promised to put all his holdings in a "blind" trust that only his children can tell him about. Also too, climate change is a hoax.

Natalie Schreyer of Mother Jones on that time Donald Trump wrote a blog post supposedly dedicated to a grieving mother -- actor Kelly Preston -- whose teenaged son had died. Trump used the post to recount at length how he had once hit on Preston at a night club.

Deirdra Funcheon of Fusion on that time the Trump team planned to make Donald into a comic-book superhero in a series called "Trump Takeover." Yes, Trump would save the world from, well, everything not-Trump, and yes, he stiffed the concept developer. With illustrations that should frighten you.

Victoria Gotti Weighs in on "King Con". Michael Daly of The Daily Beast: "Donald Trump has had dealings with members or associates of at least three Mafia families, but you can be sure that he never never groped their wives, girlfriends, or daughters. The widow of Gambino family boss John Gotti makes clear that she would not have allowed her own husband even to speak as Trump did on the now infamous Access Hollywood outtake. 'I was married to #1 gangster and would have cut his throat if he ever said such a foul thing to me,' Victoria Gotti said.... She said of Trump, 'what an embarrassment to the country. My mothers side is from Russia, they must be laughing their 'arses' off, at our politics.' Victoria made her view of The Donald even clearer in a post on Facebook, writing: 'Hoping you women out there who have any 'class or dignity' remember what this 'crude obnoxious megalomaniacal mutt' really thinks about women, someone needs to pull him by that useless twinkie he thinks is worth gold..." --safari...

... Michael Gross of The Daily Beast: The morals of Donald J. Trump, as a longtime model lover and then a modeling agency owner, were forged in another era, one in which young girls were used as a sort of currency between men doing business with one another. It's not a time that Trump, who once blew up gossip reporters' phones to dish on his own sexual exploits, real and imagined, is eager to remember now...I spoke in recent days with two Trump pals, both reluctant to talk about the man they once partied hard with who's now the Republican nominee.... But both men also put Donald Trump in the room with cocaine, very young women and underage girls, and rich, old men there to -- pardon my language, but if the Times can say pussy on its front page, I can say this -- fuck them.... Trump told me that consequence-free promiscuity was then his 'second business.... If I hadn't got married, who knows what would have happened? You had drugs, women and booze all over the fuckin' place.'" --safari

How Trump Reacts When Bested by a Woman (Or What to Expect Nov. 9):

On their first ski trip, Donald went down the slope first, then taunted his new girlfriend Ivana to try to match his brilliant downhill run:

So he goes and stops, and he says, 'Come on, baby. Come on, baby.' I went up. I went two flips up in the air, two flips in front of him. I disappeared. Donald was so angry, he took off his skis, his ski boots, and walked up to the restaurant. ... He could not take it. He could not take it. ...

... Michael Barbaro Is Not a Mental Health Professional But He Plays One on the New York Times' Front Page: "The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Mr. Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations -- the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president -- a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment. The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect." CW: Okay, so diagnosis of this particular psychopath isn't all that hard.

... Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "With his years of questioning President Obama's birthplace, his insinuation of voting fraud in black neighborhoods and his refusal to absolve the Central Park Five, Mr. Trump has riled up and shocked voters not used to hearing black Americans' sensibilities handled so dismissively on a public stage. But when ... black Americans were interviewed recently about Mr. Trump’s candidacy, shock was rarely a word that came to mind. More often, they said, what they felt was a numbing familiarity: What the rest of America was now being exposed to are words and thoughts they have heard their whole lives." -- CW

Let's Find Out What's on Newt's Mind!

Newt Gingrich (on air, on Megyn Kelly's Fox "News" show): You are fascinated with sex and you don't care about public policy. ...

Megan Kelly: You can take your anger issues and spend some time working on them, Mr. Speaker.

Newt: You too.

Dan Scavino (Trump's social media director), in a tweet: Megyn Kelly made a total fool out of herself tonight- attacking Donald Trump. Watch what happens to her after this election is over.

Senate Race

CW: I'm with Harry. Burgess Everett, et al., of Politico: "Tensions are flaring at the highest rungs of the Democratic Party over its decision to pull out of the Florida Senate race, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Florida donors pressing to go all out to unseat Marco Rubio in the final days of the campaign, but New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and the party's Senate campaign arm arguing it's not feasible because of budget constraints. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- under the direction of Schumer and its chairman, Montana Sen. Jon Tester -- has redirected millions of dollars from Florida to North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. They reason that those states are both much cheaper to advertise in and offer a more promising path to the Senate majority than Florida, where Rubio has long been favored to defeat Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. But Reid and other Democrats believe that defeating Rubio would be the ultimate Election Day trophy for Democrats, given his national stature and the reelection threat he could post to a potential President Hillary Clinton in 2020." CW: Chuck Schumer is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Election News

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "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 ...

... Michael Wines of the New York Times: "Despite a string of court victories against restrictive voting laws passed by Republican legislatures, even when voting rights groups win in court, they are at risk of losing on the ground. In an election year when turnout could be crucial, a host of factors -- foot-dragging by states, confusion among voters, the inability of judges to completely roll back bias -- are blunting the effect of court rulings against the laws." ...

... Ari Berman of the Nation: After UW-Green Bay students suffered two-hour waits to vote on primary day, "leaders of eight different student groups -- including the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties and the Black Student Union -- asked the city to put an early-voting location on campus to alleviate long lines. But city officials ignored the request and opened only one early-voting site on September 26 for the entire city ... at the clerk's office, a 15-minute drive from campus, which is open only during business hours. City Clerk Kris Teske, an appointee of Republican Mayor Jim Schmitt, a close ally of Governor Scott Walker, said the city didn't have the money, time, or security to open an early-voting location on campus or anywhere else. But privately Teske ... gave a different reason: ... student voting would benefit the Democratic Party." Berman reproduces her letter, which is explicit. CW: Teske has violated her oath of office & should be forcibly separated from her "nonpartisan" job. I doubt that will happen in Scott Walker's corrupt state. ...

Other News & Views

... CW: And all that is because confederates believe that only propertied white men should have the vote. Think I'm exaggerating? Read the particulars in Jeet Heer's piece:

... 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." -- CW

Jamelle Blouie of Slate: "This past Saturday, however,SNL struck gold with one of its sharpest political sketches in recent memory...[I]t's easy to read the message as a plea for tolerance and understanding. There's more that unites us than there is that divides us. You can even add a class analysis: Black Americans share more than just common culture with some Trump supporters; they share common interests.... Because of its roots in the South, black culture shares an affinity with the rural white life that Doug represents.... Tucked into this six-minute sketch is a subtle and sophisticated analysis of American politics. It's not that working blacks and working whites are unable to see the things they have in common; it's that the material interests of the former -- freedom from unfair scrutiny, unfair detention, and unjust killings-- are in direct tension with the identity politics of the latter." See video embedded yesterday. --safari

David Cloud of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama has told the Defense Department to expedite its review of nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers who have been ordered to repay enlistment bonuses improperly given a decade ago, but he is not backing growing calls for Congress to waive the debts, the White House said Tuesday." -- CW

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

Pity the Poor Weasel. Ed Kilgore of New York: "In all of the speculation about what Americans will wake up to on November 9 (aside from relief the election is over, assuming there are clear winners and losers who concede), there is one prominent politician who will probably suffer from a chronic postelection headache: House Speaker Paul Ryan. There is a small but quite real chance that a Trump-led Republican meltdown will award Democrats control of the House, leaving Ryan with one of America's worst jobs, House Minority Leader...The more likely but equally hellish outcome would be a significantly reduced GOP majority in the House, leaving Ryan at the mercy of surly backbenchers and vengeful Trumpites...In other words, a weakened Ryan might be right back in the same impossible position John Boehner occupied in much of Barack Obama's second term, with the added problem of a GOP divided not just over legislative strategy and tactics, but over the recently concluded presidential election and the path forward for the entire party." --safari ...

... More Evidence of Trumplodytes Cannibalism. Jeremy Peters & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Some of the loudest voices on the right seem poised to channel [their] anger into one of their favorite and most frequent pursuits: eating their own. Some in the deeply factionalized Republican Party, including Mr. Trump and some of his senior aides, are already fanning the flames for a revolt against the House speaker, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, once Congress reconvenes after the election. Mr. Trump, who has lashed out at the speaker for being critical of him, has privately said that Mr. Ryan should pay a price for his disloyalty, according to two people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal campaign discussions." -- CW ...

... Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic: "[I]t is clear that there is now a yawning gap between the Republican establishment leadership and the party rank-and-file. All of that will make governing by finding the necessary coalitions and compromises much more difficult. But it also suggests that the vote for Speaker will be one of the most fascinating and tumultuous post-election events.... [I]t is a testament to the politics of our times that Paul Ryan, the most conservative Speaker in the history of the country, won't be conservative enough for a solid core of his own party in Congress, and is under siege from his party's presidential nominee and acolytes. And the dynamic in the House will be an early window into the Republican civil war that will follow if Trump loses." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

Ted Sherman & Matt Arco of NJ.com: "In 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 ...

... "An Alternate Universe." Kate Zernike of the New York Times: Kelly "recalled watching Mr. Christie say in two news conferences that he had known nothing about the closings -- much less any intent to punish the mayor. When she tried to remind [Christie's chief-of-staff Kevin] O'Dowd and the governor that they, in fact, knew about the closings beforehand, she testified, they ignored her. Even in January 2014, when a subpoena revealed the incriminating email Ms. Kelly had written before the closings -- 'Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee' -- Mr. Christie and his aides were struggling to get their story straight. They found her a lawyer who assured her that everything was going to be fine and that they would find another job for her; then they fired her. (Ms. Kelly subsequently found another lawyer herself; Mr. Christie recently successfully nominated her original lawyer, Walter F. Timpone, to the state's highest court.)" -- CW

Kirk Johnson of the New York Times: "A federal jury indicated on Tuesday that it had reached a partial verdict in the trial of Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their followers, who face felony charges stemming from the armed takeover of a federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon in January. But two separate notes, sent to the judge from the jury room in Federal District Court [in Portland, Oregon], also suggested that the panel was having trouble reaching consensus on all of the defendants -- apparently agreeing on three of the seven -- and that one juror, a former government employee, may have expressed bias to at least one other juror." -- CW

Megan Cassidy of the Arizona Republic: "Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was officially charged Tuesday with criminal contempt of court when a federal judge affixed her signature, a formality that throws the lawman's political and personal future into a level of crisis never before seen in his 23 years in office." -- CW

Discrimination Doesn't Pay. Zach Ford of Think Progress: "This week, North Carolina found out it is not getting 730 new jobs and a quarter-billion-dollar impact that it was the top contender for. The reason? Its anti-LGBT law, HB2, which bans trans people from using the bathroom and bars municipalities from protecting LGBT people from discrimination. CoStar Group Inc., a real estate analytics company, had been shopping around cities to build a new research operations headquarters... The Atlanta Business Chronicle heard from sources that Charlotte was the favorite. But the jobs are going to Richmond. According to David Dorsch, CoStar Group's commercial real estate broker, 'The primary reason they chose Richmond over Charlotte was HB2.'"--safari

Way Beyond

Misogyny International. Liz Ford of the Guardian: "Physical, sexual and psychological violence against female MPs is undermining democracy and efforts to end gender inequality, according to a study of parliamentarians around the world. More than 40% of female MPs interviewed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said they had received threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction while serving their terms, including threats to kidnap or kill their children. More than a fifth said they had been subjected to one or more acts of sexual violence and almost a third said they'd witnessed an attack on a colleague in parliament. Some 80% of MPs said they had been subjected to psychological violence -- hostile behaviour that causes fear or psychological harm. The survey sample used by the IPU was small -- interviews with 55 female MPs from 39 countries in five regions of the world...." -- CW