The Ledes

Friday, January 20, 2017.

Washington Post: "The world’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, whisked away from the country where he built an empire that delivered tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the world." -- CW ...

     ... New York Times Update: "While most Americans were turned toward Washington and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump..., prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn held a news conference on Friday morning detailing the charges against Mr. Guzmán, who was flown out of Mexico on Thursday afternoon and arrived that night at MacArthur Airport on Long Island.... The government’s detention memo also gave an early glimpse of the case against Mr. Guzmán. It said that prosecutors planned to call several witnesses who would testify about the staggering scope of Mr. Guzmán’s criminal enterprise: including its multi-ton shipments of drugs in planes and submersibles and its numerous killings of witnesses, law enforcement agents, public officials and rival cartel members." -- CW 

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Washington Post: "The Kennedy Center Honors showcased the breadth of American music Sunday night [Dec. 4] with emotionally charged performances celebrating the gospel roots of Mavis Staples, the honeyed vocals of James Taylor and the Southern California harmonies of the Eagles. The 39th annual celebration of lifetime achievement in the performing arts also honored actor Al Pacino and pianist Martha Argerich in a three-hour party that offered a wistful goodbye to Barack and Michelle Obama, who were hosting their last Honors tribute. The sold-out audience stood and cheered for several minutes when the president and first lady were introduced."

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

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

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

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

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Thursday
Nov032016

The Commentariat -- November 4, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Bill's Crocodile Tears. Madeline Conway of Politico: "Bill Clinton on Friday used Melania Trumps recent campaign speech about cyber bullying to mock Donald Trump, suggesting her advocacy is ironic considering her husband's long history of antagonizing people on Twitter. 'I never felt so bad for anybody in my life as I did for his wife going out giving a speech saying "Oh, cyber bullying was a terrible thing,"' Clinton said, campaigning for his own wife ... in Pueblo, Colorado. 'I thought, "Yeah, especially if it's done at three o'clock in the morning against a former Miss Universe by a guy running for president!"' the former president said to laughter." -- CW

Kate Zernike of the New York Times: "A federal jury convicted two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey on Friday over a bizarre scheme to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge as punishment against a mayor who declined to endorse the governor's re-election. The two defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, were each charged with seven counts of conspiracy and wire fraud, including misusing the resources of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, and violating the rights of the citizens of Fort Lee, N.J., to travel without government restriction when the closings gridlocked their town over five days in September 2013.... Ms. Kelly testified that she had received the governor's approval before she sent the email to trigger what she thought was the traffic study." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Traffic study. Good one. Now that this scandal is over, Chrisco can go back to preparing the transition of the White House from the center of national governance and international leadership to a frat house for schemers, KKK grand dragons, chiselers, underage party girls, and of course, Russian apparatchiks deployed from the Kremlin to keep an eye on things while Trump poses for the first of his many presidential portraits.

     ... CW: And naturally, Gov. Conehead, who I believe was in on the scheme from the git-go, slides by like Crisco in a hot pan.

Rees Shapiro of the Washington Post: "A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape. The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article's publication. The jury also found the magazine and its publisher responsible for defaming Eramo. The $7.5 million lawsuit centered on Erdely's 9,000-word article titled 'A Rape on Campus.'" -- CW

More Help May Be On the Way for Comrade Trumpskyev. Matthew Rozsa of Salon: "American government officials are warning that Russian hackers may try to undermine the presidential election next week and are taking steps to prevent it. In a joint effort coordinated between the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA, and the Defense Department, the government is on alert for worst-case scenarios like a cyber-attack that shuts down part of the power grid or internet according to a report from NBC News. They have also made it clear to Russia that efforts to manipulate either the voting or vote counting process would be treated with the utmost seriousness.... There are concerns that Russia will continue to manipulate sites like WikiLeaks to dump fake documents into the news cycle on Election Day, then watch as the scandal destroys [Hillary] Clinton's campaign chances before reputable journalists have a chance to fact-check them". Akhilleus: Sheesh. Everyone wants in on the act. As for destroying Clinton's chances, our own FBI has been doing damned fine on its own without help from Russia.

Science vs Trump. And It Starts Today. Chris Moody & Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "On Friday, a major milestone will arrive for global climate change diplomacy. The so-called Paris climate agreement, an international accord forged last December by countries across the world, will become a legal reality far sooner than almost anyone anticipated. The rapid pace with which countries have ratified the agreement underscores the urgency many nations feel in the wake of a string of record hot years and ever more severe climate impacts. Next week in Marrakesh, Morocco, leaders from around the globe will gather to celebrate the achievement and to begin ironing out the details of how individual countries plan to live up to the ambitious commitments they've made to slash their emissions of carbon dioxide.... While Hillary Clinton has vowed to honor the Paris agreement...,Donald Trump has pledged to 'cancel' the accord." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Fossil fuel sources such as coal and oil took hundreds of millions of years to develop. Humans have nearly depleted them in 200 years. Trump promises to ignore facts and science and bring back coal and oil jobs. Some estimates place oil availability as being finished within the lifetime of today's teenagers, coal within a hundred years or less. Natural gas, going out at about the same time as oil. Trump says no. He won't let that happen. He also promises to stop the sun in the heavens and bring back dinosaurs.

*****

CW: I'm so desperate I just broke down & made what for me are significant contributions to the Clinton & Senate Democrats' campaigns. For Madame Cheapskate, that's desperate. I am having actual nightmares about Trump.

Presidential Race

Gary Langer, et al., of ABC News: "A hint of momentum for Hillary Clinton has produced a 3-point race in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll results, with wide leads for the Democrat in trust to handle the economy and health care among likely voters focused on those two issues. Donald Trump pushes back with a clear lead on dealing with corruption in government and immigration among those who cite either of these as their top issue. The candidates are evenly matched on another key concern, trust to handle terrorism and national security. The poll finds a 47-44 percent race between Clinton and Trump in a four-day average among likely voters, vs. Trump's best result, 45-46 percent, three days ago. While the shift is not statistically significant, two of the last three nights -- moving away from news of the FBI's renewed email investigation -- have been Clinton's best since the early days of tracking." -- CW ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump has never been closer to the presidency than he is at this moment.... From her high in the polls a week or two ago, Clinton's leads in a number of critical battleground states have collapsed or evaporated entirely. The election could come down to one state with four electoral college votes that flips from Clinton to Donald Trump and, boom: A 269-269 electoral college tie, and a vote by the House of Representatives to decide on the next president -- who, given the composition of the House, would almost certainly be Donald Trump.... On Thursday, that Clinton state with four electoral college votes raised its hand. Hi, New Hampshire! Two new polls, from Boston Globe-Suffolk University and WBUR-MassInc put the Granite State at a virtual tie, with the continuing trend in the state away from Clinton. That's Trump's 269th electoral college vote. Or, really, his 270th: Polling in Maine's second congressional district (which allocates one electoral college vote separately) has Trump in the lead." -- CW ...

... Nate Silver says pretty much the same thing, noting that Clinton's Electoral College position is worse than Obama's was at this point in 2012. "... Clinton's current position in our polls-plus forecast -- which gives her a 65 percent chance of winning the Electoral College -- to FiveThirtyEight's final election forecast in 2012, which gave President Obama a 91 percent chance." -- CW

Abby Phillip, et al., of the Washington Post: "With fewer than five days left before the election, the bitter fight for the presidency descended Thursday on North Carolina, a crucial battleground where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attacked one another at competing campaign events. Clinton urged African American voters here to turn out, warning them that Trump's vision for his presidency would leave them behind. About 200 miles to the west, in Concord, Trump cast Clinton as a 'candidate of yesterday.'... Hours later, the Democratic and Republican nominees held dueling events in Raleigh and Selma, respectively, throwing more jabs at one another.... Clinton ... held a joint rally Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C., with ... Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and musician Pharrell." -- CW See more on Trump's remarks below. ...

... Jessie Hellmann of the Hill: "Bernie Sanders said Donald Trump is running a campaign built on bigotry as he campaigned with Hillary Clinton in the key swing state of North Carolina.... 'Now as Americans, we can disagree on many issues, but we have come too far. Too many people have gone to jail, and too many have died in the struggle for equal rights. We are not going back to a bigoted society." -- CW

Madeline Conway of Politico: President Barack Obama on Thursday again knocked Donald Trump as thin-skinned -- this time, mocking the Republican presidential nominee for lashing out at 'Saturday Night Live' on Twitter because the sketch comedy show made fun of him.... Obama said, stumping for Hillary Clinton in Miami. 'Anybody who is upset about a "Saturday Night Live" skit, you don't want in charge of nuclear weapons.' The crowd laughed, and Obama went on, miming texting and making a face: 'No, I'm serious. This is a guy who, like, tweets, "They should cancel 'Saturday Night Live.' I don't like how Alec Baldwin's imitating me." Really? I mean, that's the thing that bothers you and you want to be president of the United States?'" -- CW

Josh Gerstein & Madeline Conway of Politico: "The State Department on Thursday dropped more than 1,000 additional pages of Hillary Clinton's emails that the FBI recovered from her private server, but a significant number of the documents are near duplicates of messages the agency previously released." -- CW

CBS News: "The FBI has found emails related to Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state on the laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner, according to a U.S. official. These emails, CBS News' Andres Triay reports, are not duplicates of emails found on Secretary Clinton's private server. At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI's investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are." -- CW ...

... Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "Deep divisions inside the FBI and the Justice Department over how to handle investigations dealing with Hillary Clinton will probably fester even after Tuesday's presidential election and pose a significant test for James B. Comey's leadership of the nation's chief law enforcement agency.... Clinton, who seemed to have momentum in battleground state polls before Comey's Friday bombshell, notably declined on Thursday to say whether, if elected, she would ask the FBI director to resign." -- CW ...

... "The FBI Is Trumpland." Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: "Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election. Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey's July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton's maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited. 'The FBI is Trumpland,' said one current agent." -- CW ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A law enforcement agency does not need to arrest you or charge you with a crime to disrupt your life. It can simply release innuendo into the wild and watch your reputation --  along with, potentially, your professional and social life  -- collapse. Which, of course, is what various individuals within the FBI are doing to Hillary Clinton.... It is difficult, in other words, to escape the impression that a faction within the FBI is actively trying to elect Mr. Trump and to weaken Secretary Clinton. It appears to be doing so, moreover, in violation of Justice Department policy, and in violation of the basic principle that law enforcement should not spread rumors and innuendo in order to damage people they do not like." Millhiser outlines the "case" agents think they've made against the Clinton Foundation, a case so strong, they're sure they'll be an indictment coming down any day, even though the Justice Department laughed away their "evidence." -- CW ...

... Kevin Drum: "Holy crap. The field agents got started on this because they read Clinton Cash, the latest in a 25-year stream of books insisting that the Clintons are our era's Borgia family. Then they got even more interested because some guy -- literally just some guy -- was recorded blathering about the foundation.... And now it turns out the FBI is full of middle-aged white guys who apparently read the book, listen to lots of Rush Limbaugh, and just know that if they look a little harder they'll find the one Jenga brick that causes the whole Clinton edifice to finally collapse. Jesus Christ." -- CW ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progrss: "The FBI has launched an internal investigation into one of its own Twitter accounts. The account at issue, @FBIRecordsVault, had been dormant for more than a year. Then on October 30 at 4 a.m., the account released a flood of documents, including one describing Donald Trump's father Fred Trump as a 'philanthropist.'... Two days later..., the account tweeted documents regarding President Bill Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich.... The account has not been active since that tweet. ThinkProgress has learned that the FBI's Inspection Division will undertake an investigation of the account.... News of the internal investigation is at odds with the FBI's official position, which is that the Twitter account followed all FBI procedures." -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "Of all the astonishing things in an astonishing (and increasingly grim) presidential campaign, the sudden involvement of elements of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the act of ratfcking a candidacy is even more amazing than the fact that there is a vulgar talking yam one step away from running almost the entire federal government. There hasn't been a hotter hot mess in Washington since John Mitchell was running both the Department of Justice and a criminal conspiracy to obstruct same.... The important thing to remember is that one portion of the FBI seems to be at war with another portion of the FBI and that almost everybody has a gun." Pierce rightly fingers the NYT here, too, for its early participation in the scheme. -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "This is law enforcement trying to force its will of the civil authorities, no different from some backwater sheriff who has compromising photos of the mayor. And, as far as the immediate future goes, this is going to be a stunning chapter when Dante comes back from the dead and writes the definitive history of this campaign." CW: Sadly, Charles, it won't be Dante. It will be Mark Halperin & his sidekick What's-His-Name, breathlessly hyping their scooplets from inside Trump's brain (where there is plenty of rattling-around room for a suite of luxury apartments for the tiny Halperins of "journalism." ...

... Frank Rich: Jim Comey's "letter to Congress offered nothing more than the vague intimation that maybe, just maybe, there was significant new evidence in what he had previously said was a closed case. Incredibly, Comey sounded off before the emails had been examined for any relevance to the saga of Clinton's arrogant, boneheaded, and careless -- but not criminal -- use of a private server while Secretary of State. For him to open this Pandora's box 11 days before an election, overriding Justice Department rules and the advice of Justice officials, is at least as reckless as anything Clinton did. If Donald Trump wins the election in a squeaker, Comey will prove to have been one of the most consequential fools in American history. ...

... Mark Hosenball of Reuters: "The FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are examining faked documents aimed at discrediting the Hillary Clinton campaign as part of a broader investigation into what U.S. officials believe has been an attempt by Russia to disrupt the presidential election.... U.S. Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, has referred one of the documents to the FBI for investigation.... In the letter identified as fake, Carper is quoted as writing to Clinton, 'We will not let you lose this election.'... The FBI has also reviewed a seven-page electronic document that carries the logos of Democratic pollster Joel Benenson's firm ... and the Clinton Foundation.... The document, identified as a fake by the Clinton campaign, claims poll ratings had plunged for Clinton and called for 'severe strategy changes for November' that could include 'staged civil unrest' and 'radiological attack' with dirty bombs to disrupt the vote.... On Oct. 20, Roger Stone, a former Trump aide and Republican operative, linked to a copy of the document on Twitter with the tag, 'If this is real: OMG!!'" CW: Of course we're sure Roger and his Russian comrades had nothing to do with producing the fake docs. ...

... The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump suggested that the Justice Department is preventing the FBI from releasing relevant information in its investigation into Hillary Clinton during a speech on Thursday. 'She's protected by the Department of Justice, and what's going on in our country this has never happened, ever happened before,' Trump told his audience at his third rally of the day [Thursday]. 'And the FBI is in there, they're doing their job and they're not allowed to be doing their job, what's going on is a disgrace.'" -- CW ...

... Dylan Byers & Brian Stelter of CNN: "Several of the nation's leading news outlets have rebutted a report from Fox News stating that the FBI is pursuing an indictment of the Clinton Foundation. On Thursday, NBC News, ABC News and CNN all reported that Fox's report was not true -- and Bret Baier, the Fox News host responsible for the report, said he had spoken 'inartfully' when he reported on the news. By that point, however, The Hill and RealClearPolitics had published stories about Baier's report, while countless conservatives sites claimed it as fact and celebrated Clinton's possible imprisonment." -- CW ...

... Mike Levine of ABC News: "On the campaign trail [Thursday], Donald Trump touted allegations about the Clinton Foundation that reliable sources say are false and ill-informed. 'It was reported last night that the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's pay-for-play corruption,' the Republican presidential nominee said [Thursday] in Jacksonville, Florida, during his first rally of the day. 'The investigation is described as a high priority. It's far-reaching and has been going on for more than one year. It was reported that an avalanche of information is coming in. The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment.' [CW: Notice how Trump inflates even the false story.] ABC News sources, however, indicated those statements -- and the Fox News reports they're based on -- are inaccurate and without merit.... Prosecutors and senior FBI officials agreed that there was no clear evidence of wrongdoing and that a criminal case tied to the Clinton Foundation could not be made, according to the sources." -- CW ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Fox News anchor Bret Baier admitted on Thursday that he had been wrong when he reported that Hillary Clinton would 'likely' be indicted by federal authorities, a claim that sent conservative websites into a frenzy." Baier said (evidently he just found out) that DOJ prosecutors, not the FBI, would have to make the decision on whether or not to bring the case. No kidding. -- CW

New York Times Editors: "Donald Trump and other embattled Republican candidates are resorting to a particularly bizarre and dangerous tactic in the closing days of the campaign -- warning that they may well seek to impeach Hillary Clinton if she wins, or, short of that, tie her up with endless investigations and other delaying tactics. Of all the arguments advanced by the Trump forces, this has to be among the most preposterous. In effect, what they're saying is, Mrs. Clinton won't be able to govern, because we won't let her. So don't waste your vote on her. Vote for us.... 'I guarantee you in one year she'll be impeached and indicted,' [Rudy] Giuliani promised Iowa voters this week. 'It's just going to happen. We're going to sort of vote for a Watergate.'... Beyond simple hypocrisy, the Republicans' impeachment threat demonstrates their gathering disrespect for democracy. If they can't gain control of government fairly, they'll simply undermine it. It is the clearest warning yet that voters must deliver a firm rejection of the politics of division that Mr. Trump represents." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "Donald Trump's closing argument is now that electing Hillary Clinton president will grind our entire system of government to a halt. 'If she were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented Constitutional crisis,' he has been saying lately. 'She is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a very large scale criminal trial.' Trump now pairs this argument with his frequent claim that the election will be 'rigged.' But it's important to understand that this isn't just a closing argument. He's laying the groundwork for an argument that he may continue to make after the election." -- CW

Russ Buettner of the New York Times: "... an examination of [Donald Trump's] tax appeals on several properties, and other documents obtained by The New York Times through Freedom of Information requests, shows that what Mr. Trump has reported on [financial disclosure] forms is nowhere near a complete picture of his financial state. The records demonstrate that large portions of those numbers represent cash coming into his businesses before covering costs like mortgage payments, payroll and maintenance. After expenses, some of his businesses make a small fraction of what he reported on his disclosure forms, or actually lose money. In fact, it is virtually impossible to determine from the forms just how much he is earning in any year." CW: Hey, maybe the poor guy did earn only $15K last year, as he claimed (see NYT story linked in yesterday's Commentariat). ...

... Cogan Schneier of Politico: "The National Labor Relations Board ... ruled Thursday that the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas violated the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to bargain with a union that represents more than 500 housekeeping, food and beverage and guest services workers there. The NLRB's decision orders Trump Ruffin Commercial LLC to recognize and bargain with the workers, who are represented by Nevada's powerful Culinary Workers Union Local 226, an affiliate of UNITE HERE. The NLRB also ordered the company, owned by Trump and casino owner Phillip Ruffin, to post notices to hotel employees about the violation. 'Mr. Trump is breaking federal law and Trump Hotel Las Vegas is operating illegally,' said Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline." CW: Believe me, Donald Trump is going to make things so great for U.S. workers. ...

... MEANWHILE, Trump & a Russian Oligarch Pal Will Be Stiffing Some Canadians. Michael Grunwald of Politico: "The 65-story Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto has all the glitz and ambition of the luxury-brand businessman with his name in giant letters near its spire. It's the tallest residential skyscraper in Canada, and probably the fanciest.... On Tuesday, a Canadian bankruptcy judge placed the glass-and-granite building into receivership, just four years after Trump and his children cut the ribbon at its grand opening.... Trump is not the project's developer or even an investor; one of his partners, a Russian-born billionaire who got rich in Ukraine's steel industry, controls the firm that's in default.... Still, the saga of the property's glittering rise and rapid fall is classic Trump, featuring a tsunami of litigation and bitterness, money with a Russian accent, and a financial wreck that probably won't hit its namesake particularly hard." -- CW

Think Leonidas at Thermopylae, think William the Conqueror at Hastings, think Henry V at Agincourt, think George Washington crossing the Delaware, think the Great Twitter War of Fuckface von Clownstick:

Wait, Wait. There's Someone Funnier than Jon Stewart. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: In a campaign speech in Pennsylvania, Melania Trump, best known for plagiarizing Michelle Obama at the Republican National Convention this past summer, plagiarized the former wife of another famous presidential candidate: Donald Trump. Yup. "If you could dream it, you could become it," Melania said in Pennsylvania, which is exactly what Donaldo Wife No. 2 Marla Maples said in a 2011 interview, decades after the couple split . The original saying was, "If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it," penned by William Arthur Ward. Both Melania & Marla misquote Ward in precisely the same way, and they're the only two who do so, according to a Google search. -- CW ...

... Also Weird. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "... as Melania Trump denounced cyberbullying, journalists noted that she is married to the year's cyber-bully-in-chief." Karen Tumulty of the WashPo in a tweet, "appeal for decency on social media: 'I kept thinking, 'Have you met Donald Trump?'" digby in a tweet: "Uhm Melania, social media decency starts at home..." -- CW

Chris Massie & Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "Eric Trump said on Thursday that former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke deserves 'a bullet.'... After host Ross Kaminsky of 630 KHOW Denver radio suggested Duke deserves a bullet to the head, [Eric Trump said,] 'The guy does deserve a bullet. I mean, these aren't good people. These are horrible people. In fact, I commend my father. My father's the first Republican who's gone out and said, 'Listen, what's happened to the African-American community is horrible and I'm going to take care of it.'" -- CW

Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday neglected to mention Donald Trump by name as he made his first appearance on the campaign trail for the Republican presidential ticket. While campaigning with ... Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in the final week of the race, Cruz argued that Americans need 'a Republican' in the White House as well as for the GOP to maintain control of the Senate. Cruz's remarks largely resembled his stump speeches from his own presidential campaign and trained fire on ... Hillary Clinton." -- CW

Election News

Greg Miller & Adam Entous of the Washington Post: "U.S. intelligence agencies do not see Russia as capable of using cyberespionage to alter the outcome of Tuesday's presidential election, but they have warned that Moscow may continue meddling after the voting has ended to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the result, U.S. officials said. The assessment reflects widespread concern among U.S. spy agencies that a months-long campaign by Russia to rattle the mechanisms of American democracy will probably continue after polls close on one of the most polarizing races in recent history, extending and amplifying the political turbulence." -- CW

AP: "North Carolina's process for challenging voters' registration seems to harken to a bygone era when fewer safeguards were in place, a federal judge said Wednesday as she presided over a lawsuit [brought by the NAACP] that alleges voters are being purged unfairly.... U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said multiple times the challenge process sounds 'insane.' 'This sounds like something that was put together in 1901,' she told lawyers for the state.... The comments came during an emergency hearing over NAACP allegations that at least three counties purged voter rolls through a process disproportionately targeting blacks.... The hearing ended without a ruling." CW: Biggs is an Obama appointee.

Other News & Views

CBS News: "CBS News has learned about a potential terror threat for the day before the election. Sources told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that U.S. intelligence has alerted joint terrorism task forces that al Qaeda could be planning attacks in three states for Monday. It is believed New York, Texas and Virginia are all possible targets, though no specific locations are mentioned. U.S. authorities are taking the threat seriously, though the sources stress the intelligence is still being assessed and its credibility hasn't been confirmed. Counterterrorism officials were alerted to the threat out of abundance of caution." CW: Al Qaeda? Sounds more like Al Putin or Al Trump. ...

     ... Akhilleus: So now Al Qaeda wants to help Trump too? The report goes on to say that the FBI is working on the possibility of a worst-case scenario, which, based on recent FBI work, could be the election of Hillary Clinton. Makes one wonder if this could be another bit of "intel" designed to help their chosen candidate.

Paul Krugman: "Republican leaders have spent the past couple of decades doing exactly what the likes of [Paul] Ryan are doing now: trashing democratic norms in pursuit of economic benefits for their donor class. So we shouldn't really be too surprised that Mr. Comey, who turns out to be a Republican first and a public servant, well, not so much, decided to politically weaponize his position on the eve of the election; that's what Republicans have been doing across the board. And we shouldn't be surprised at all that Mr. Trump's lurid personal failings haven't caused a break with the leaders of his party's establishment: They decided long ago that only Democrats have scandals." -- CW

Tim Egan on post-truth America: "Of all the concerns facing a Madam President, governing in a post-truth environment may be the biggest challenge. Perhaps a third of American adults now believe a few Big Lies. And those Big Lies may be nearly impossible to dislodge, because in the course of this awful election, even fact-checking became suspect.... The fog comes from all ZIP codes.... The lies that many Americans now believe, and that make it so difficult to move the country on the big issues, go to existential facts. A government of the people requires the people to conduct an honest assessment of their world -- something too many citizens are no longer capable of doing." -- CW ...

... CW: Especially when it comes to politics, people think they can choose from a menu of neurotic lies. Egan cites a Trump supporter from Cambridge, Mass., who bought a whole plateful of preposterous "facts." This week a friend went to dinner with a well-educated, well-spoken acquaintance she thought she more-or-less knew. The acquaintance, who turned out to be a Trumpbot, has a Russian girlfriend. He said he probably would never see the woman again because "Hillary is going to close all the borders." What? What?? What??? No doubt you've got a few case studies of your own to report.

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court stayed the execution Thursday night of an Alabama inmate who had been scheduled to die by lethal injection.... This marked the seventh time that Thomas D. Arthur -- who was convicted of murder and is the second-oldest inmate on Alabama's death row -- had faced an execution date that was called off.... Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- the Supreme Court justice assigned to the 11th Circuit, which includes Alabama -- said in an order shortly before 10:30 p.m. that he was halting the execution until he or the other justices issued another order.... The [full Court's] order included a statement from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. explaining that while he did not believe this case merited a review from the Supreme Court, he had decided to vote for a stay anyway as a courtesy to his colleagues. Roberts wrote that four of the other justices had voted in favor of staying the execution." -- CW

Sharon Churcher of Radar: "Fox News star Megyn Kelly has unveiled explosive new charges against the network’s founder, Roger Ailes, claiming the disgraced 76-year-old executive tried to sexually assault her in his New York office and hinted she would be fired when she 'pushed him away.'" Churcher provides details, which she says are a late addition to Kelly's memoir. CW: If, like me, you thought the beautiful women Fox "News" puts on air were there to increase ratings, you were wrong; their primary function appears to have been to serve as Roger's harem. Did I mention that, at least until recently, Old Mister Pig was one of Donald Trump's closest advisors?

Beyond the Beltway

Ted Sherman & Matt Arco of NJ.com: "Defense attorneys Thursday asked for the declaration of a mistrial in the Bridgegate saga in the wake of a furtive, day-long battle that took place behind-the-scenes on Wednesday over whether jurors had been incorrectly instructed. The request was made in a redacted application that gave no reason for the mistrial request. At the same time, assistant U.S. Attorney David Feder filed a separate motion asking the court to seal the record.... [The mistrial request] came following a heated dispute on Wednesday involving the judge's answer to a question by the jury a day earlier, when U.S. District Court Judge Susan Wigenton told jurors they need not consider the politically inspired motive in the George Washington Bridge scandal in determining the the guilt or innocence of the defendants." -- CW

News Lede

Bloomberg: "U.S. jobs continued to rise at a steady pace in October and wage gains accelerated, signs that the labor market and economy made steady progress at the start of the fourth quarter. Payrolls climbed by 161,000 last month following a 191,000 gain in September that was larger than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 173,000. The jobless rate fell to 4.9 percent, while wages rose from a year earlier by the most since June 2009." -- CW

Wednesday
Nov022016

The Commentariat -- November 3, 2016

Think Leonidas at Thermopylae, think William the Conqueror at Hastings, think Henry V at Agincourt, think George Washington crossing the Delaware, think the Great Twitter War of Fuckface von Clownstick:

*****

Presidential Race

Megan Thee-Brenan of the New York Times: "Heading into the final days of the presidential campaign, the race has settled back into a tight contest, with Hillary Clinton holding an edge over Donald J. Trump after a month of tumult. Most voters say their minds are made up and late revelations about both candidates made no significant difference to them, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday. Five days before Election Day, the margin between the candidates is narrow, with 45 percent of likely voters supporting Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic candidate, to 42 percent for Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee. The difference is within the poll's margin of sampling error. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has the support of 5 percent of likely voters, and the Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, takes 4 percent." CW: If you're a Jill Stein voter (I'm talking to you, Susan Sarandon), you're an irresponsible, confused fool.

... Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "By driving women, educated white voters and, most significantly, growing blocs of minorities away from the Republican Party, Mr. Trump has hastened social and political changes already well underway in two key regions, the interior West and the upper South, that not long ago tilted to the right. Now, even as Hillary Clinton contends with inflamed Democratic anxiety over renewed scrutiny of her private email server, these once-red areas are providing an unexpected firewall for her campaign." -- CW


Jordan Fabian
of the Hill: "President Obama is sounding the alarm about low turnout among black voters in key battleground states, arguing it could sink Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the White House and put his legacy in jeopardy. 'Im going to be honest with you right now. The Latino vote is up. The overall vote is up. But the African-American vote, right now, is not as solid as it needs to be,' Obama said in an interview that aired Wednesday on the 'Tom Joyner Morning Show.' The president's comments amplify concerns from top Democrats about low black turnout in early voting, something they fear could cause a problem for Clinton, who is clinging to a narrow lead over Republican Donald Trump. African-American turnout is down from four years ago in both North Carolina and Florida. The Clinton campaign is plotting a final-week blitz in both states, including two visits to each state by Obama. Black returns in early voting are also down in Ohio, where Obama rallied Democrats on Tuesday." -- CW ...

... Kevin Liptak of CNN: "President Barack Obama returned to North Carolina Wednesday more insistent than ever the state's college students and African-Americans cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, telling them 'the fate of the republic rests on your shoulders.' But on his third campaign stop in the state since July, he also appealed to Republicans, saying certain standards transcend party politics." -- CW ...

... The full speech is here. Here's a clip:

Sari Horwitz & Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Senior FBI officials were informed about the discovery of new emails potentially relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server at least two weeks before Director James B. Comey notified Congress, according to federal officials.... The officials said that Comey was told that there were new emails before he received a formal briefing last Thursday, although the precise timing is unclear.... In notifying lawmakers on Friday about the new investigative steps, Comey said he had been 'briefed' about the newly discovered emails a day earlier but did not mention that he had first heard about them before that. The news media has widely reported that Comey was first told about the emails last week.... When Comey and the officials decided to seek a warrant, they knew that would involve more people, both at the FBI and the Justice Department. Comey was concerned that the explosive information that they had to renew the Clinton investigation would leak out." ...

     ... CW: This is a major CYA leak, one Comey almost certain authorized. It's also, if you notice, an attempt to shift blame to the DOJ for Comey's "need" to notify Congress. ...

... ** Gardiner Harris & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: " President Obama sharply criticized the decision by his F.B.I. director to alert Congress on Friday about the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton server case, implying that it violated investigative guidelines and trafficked in innuendo. 'We don't operate on incomplete information,' Mr. Obama said in an interview with NowThis News, broadcast Wednesday. 'We don't operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the F.B.I., the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn't anything there that was prosecutable," Mr. Obama said." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jessie Hellmann of the Hill: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) floated the possibility Wednesday that FBI Director James Comey could be one 'the casualties' of the 2016 election.... 'Maybe he's not in the right job,' Pelosi said to CNN. 'I think that we have to just get through this election and just see what the casualties are along the way.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "There are two possible explanations for James Comey's decision to announce last week that he was examining emails that 'appear to be pertinent' to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. One explanation, which I tend to believe, is that Comey ... set out to interfere in the campaign on behalf of the Republican Party, a shocking act that would render him unfit for his powerful office. (In that scenario, the aim may have ... been ... to preserve the Republican majorities in Congress, which suddenly seemed in danger this fall....) The other possible explanation is that he acted out of ... self-righteousness -- a dangerous current in modern right-wing politics that has its roots in the rise of the Moral Majority.... Certainly, Comey was not acting out of respect for protocol, ethics and procedure.... Comey has always enjoyed flexing his power." -- CW ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The FBI never asked Hillary Clinton's top aides to turn over all the computers and smartphones they used while Clinton was secretary of state, an omission that is now triggering questions from Republican lawmakers." CW Translation: We fucked up, so now we're obliged to fuck up the election. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... David Mack of BuzzFeed: "The teenage girl who allegedly received indecent messages from Anthony Weiner said she is 'upset' with FBI Director James Comey after she found out via the media that her case had been tied to the use of Hillary Clinton's private email server.... 'The FBI asked for me to speak to the media as little as possible. I have tried to stay quiet, but Comey has upset me,' the teenager told BuzzFeed News. 'The last thing that I wanted was to have this become political propaganda.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Den of Reprobates. Veteran investigative reporter Wayne Barrett, writing in the Daily Beast, on the web of confederates tied to the FBI "investigations" of Clinton: Trump, Giuliani, Comey, former head of the FBI's New York office Jim Kallstrom, current FBI agents, Fox "News," et al. Barrett's lede: "Two days before FBI director James Comey rocked the world last week, Rudy Giuliani was on Fox, where he volunteered, un-prodded by any question: 'I think he's got a surprise or two that you're going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I'm talking about some pretty big surprises.' Do read on, especially if you think the FBI is a band of high-minded boy scouts (and we're pretty much talking all boys). P.S. It isn't a conspiracy "theory" if there's a real conspiracy. Thanks to safari for the link.

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "It would seem that basically everyone at the FBI is leaking their sides of various internal disputes and turf wars, largely tied to various investigations of the Clintons or attempts to start investigations of the Clintons. That alone paints a picture of Director James Comey as having totally lost control of the organization. But the points of dispute themselves, well ...." Read on. CW: The "evidence" the anti-Clinton agents are pushing is astonishing. And Trump's alt-right campaign manager Steve Bannon turns out to be behind the FBI's "evidence"-gathering. Bannon's delusions of grandeur are not looking so delusional. He pulls a lot of crap-wrapped string. ...

     ... Update: "... Margaret Hartmann of New York has more on the FBI sieve: "While a number of FBI agents and Justice Department officials appear to be airing their grievances about how the Clinton and Trump investigations were handled, a few are going even further by sharing their predictions about the outcomes. Fox News's Bret Baier said Wednesday that two FBI sources said the Clinton Foundation probe is likely to lead to an indictment. One of the sources said the bureau has collected 'a lot of' evidence, and 'there is an avalanche of new information coming every day.'" ...

     ... CW: [As Hartmann notes,] over there at the Fair & Balanced Network, "news" anchor Bret Baier is reporting a "likely indictment" related to the Clinton Foundation "'barring some obstruction in some way' from the Justice Department." The "obstruction" is probably something like, "We hold to the quaint notion that an indictment should be based on something we like to call 'evidence of wrongdoing.'"

Dylan Byers of CNN: "Donald Trump once again singled out NBC News journalist Katy Tur by name during a rally on Wednesday, reigniting concerns about reporters' safety at Trump rallies. Speaking at a rally in Miami, Trump launched into his oft-repeated line about how the 'dishonest' media never showed the size of his rallies before singling out Tur. 'There's something happening. They're not reporting it. Katy -- you're not reporting it, Katy,' Trump said. 'But there's something happening, Katy. There's something happening, Katy.'... Following Trump's remarks on Wednesday, other journalists at the rally reported that some Trump supporters were harassing Tur. It was not the first time Trump had singled out Tur, who has been covering his campaign since last summer." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "Ever since Trump first called Megyn Kelly a 'bimbo' for daring to press him over his ugly attacks on women, and ever since Trump subsequently described a Hillary Clinton debate bathroom break as 'disgusting,' it's been obvious Trump's low standing with female voters might eventually doom his candidacy. Despite feints at addressing this problem, he has been unable to control his impulse towards belittling women." Sargent suggests that Trump's idea of a "media cover-up" is their refusal to report out Trump's repeated lies. -- CW

Jonathan Salant of NJ.com: Donald "Trump, who was slow to repudiate former KKK leader David Duke's endorsement in February, quickly renounced this show of support [from the Crusader, a KKK publication, which ran a full front-page story praising him]. 'Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form,' the campaign said in a statement sent to the Washington Post. 'This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign.' An official at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, questioned Trump's sincerity. 'Trump has been dog whistling white supremacists from the very first day of his campaign when he described Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers,' said Mark Potok, a senior fellow with a civil rights organization in Montgomery, Ala. 'I don't take his disavowal of white supremacist groups seriously at all.'" -- CW

** Donald Trump, Huge Tax Cheat & Horrible Citizen, Ctd. Fred Goldberg & Michael Graetz, in a New York Times op-ed: "Trump ... reported only $14,222 in total salary on his 2015 financial disclosure form.... By declaring such a low salary, Mr. Trump, we believe, avoided paying millions of dollars of Medicare taxes that should have gone to support senior citizens and their families. He may even have shortchanged Social Security by declaring salary and self-employment income below the limit on Social Security taxes ($118,500 in 2015).... If you work for a corporation, you are expected to declare a reasonable salary, and if you are a member of a partnership, you are expected to declare fair compensation for your management services." Goldberg is former IRS commissioner under Bush I & Graetz served in Bush's Treasury. ...

     ... CW: In other words, janitors & maids pay more in Medicare & Social Security taxes than Trump does. That is outrageous. Seriously. And, no, that doesn't "make him smart." It makes him a low-life piece of garbage who has cheated every American who works or worked for a living. But we knew that. ...

... Dana Milbank now counts himself among the tens of thousands of workers, vendors, lawyers & donors whom Donald Trump has directly ripped off. Milbank wants his money back. Good luck with that, Dana. -- CW

The Trumpster Hosts the Mobster. Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News: "A newly uncovered video appears to contradict Donald Trump's claim that he never knew a high-stakes gambler who was banned from New Jersey casinos for alleged ties to organized crime. The reputed mob figure, Robert LiButti, can be seen standing alongside Trump in the front row of a 1988 'WrestleMania' match in Atlantic City, N.J.... Edith Creamer, [LiButti's daughter...,] also attended the event. 'We were his guests,' she told Yahoo News in a text message this week.... The video appears to lend new support to assertions Trump once had close relations with LiButti, who was banned from the state's casinos in 1991 because of his ties to Mafia boss John Gotti, then the chief of the Gambino crime syndicate. Separately, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission that same year levied $650,000 in fines against the Trump Plaza hotel over its dealings with LiButti, who gambled huge sums at the hotel's casino. LiButti died in 2014."CW: Maybe dead men tell no tales, but videotapes and daughters do. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Josh Gerstein: "Lawyers suing Donald Trump for fraud over his Trump University real-estate seminar program say his campaign trail statements -- including some alleged whoppers -- should be fair game at a civil trial set to start later this month. Last week, Trump's attorneys asked that all his comments connected to his presidential campaign be off limits in the class-action lawsuit, along with all discussion of what his legal team euphemistically called 'personal conduct accusations.'... 'Donald Trump's dizzying array of objectively false, contradictory, and self-defeating statements have left him so flummoxed he is demanding that the Court create a new category of immunity to protect him from himself,' the plaintiffs' attorneys wrote. 'As a key witness in a case about his deception of others, Trump's representations, acts (or lack thereof), and credibility will be among the most important issues for the jury to determine. Trump wants to rig the deck by hiding from the jury his own words.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Election News

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), in a Washington Post op-ed: "On Tuesday, Americans will elect a president without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.... In 2013, the Supreme Court declared that voter discrimination was no longer a problem and effectively struck down the only portion of the act designed to stop discrimination before it affects an election. The court let stand the provisions of the act that allow lawsuits after a discriminatory law takes effect, but unfortunately, the United States has learned the hard way that there is no satisfactory cure for discrimination after an election occurs.... Along with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), I introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 to modernize the original law and to respond to the Supreme Court's objections in Shelby County.... Unfortunately, despite the legislation having more than 100 co-sponsors, Congress still has not acted on it.... If voters are worried about rigged elections, Congress must act with urgency to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015." -- CW ...

... CW: Why, Jim, what could possibly go wrong? ...

... Trump Alt-Right Allies Plan Election-Day Mayhem. Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website 'the Right Stuff' are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city's 'ghetto' on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either 'informally' or, they say, through the Trump campaign. The Oath Keepers, a group of former law enforcement and military members that often shows up in public heavily armed, is advising members to go undercover and conduct 'intelligence-gathering' at polling places, and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is organizing his own exit polling, aiming to monitor thousands of precincts across the country." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Was He Lying Then or Is He Lying Now? Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Mike Pence declared confidently over the summer that the Trump campaign would be working hand-in-glove with the Republican National Committee to prevent voter fraud. Now, in a court filing, the GOP's vice presidential nominee says he misspoke. After facing a legal threat from Democrats, Pence and the RNC are disavowing his comments, with both insisting that the RNC has no role whatsoever in the Trump camp's ballot security operation.... As a result of Pence's assertion -- and a similar one by Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway -- the Democratic National Committee filed suit alleging that the RNC was violating a consent decree from the 1980s settling a case alleging that GOP poll-watchers sought to intimidate minority voters in a practice then known as 'caging.'" -- CW ...

... Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "A historically black church in Greenville, Mississippi was set on fire and vandalized with graffiti reading 'vote Trump' on Tuesday night. 'It is being investigated as a hate crime,' Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons told TPM on Wednesday...." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Senate Races

Mini-Trump. Francis Clines of the New York Times: "Echoes of Donald Trump's worst campaign instincts -- on gun control and the news media -- are registering down ballot in North Carolina, a crucial toss-up state where Senator Richard Burr, a Republican, is in a tight re-election race.... [Burr's] bullseye talk recalled Mr. Trump's remark in August that 'Second Amendment people' could 'maybe' find a way to deal with Hillary Clinton.... Later in the week, in a move that recalled Mr. Trump's crusade to demonize and black-ball selected media outlets, Mr. Burr's campaign vindictively banned the state's main newspaper, The News & Observer, from receiving advance notice of the senator's daily campaign schedule." -- CW

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "The FBI is investigating an alleged illegal donation scheme involving a wealthy Saudi family that supports Democratic Florida Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. The Hill has found no evidence that Murphy himself was involved in, or even aware of, the alleged scheme. The Murphy campaign declined to say whether the candidate is aware of the FBI probe, but the campaign said neither Murphy nor his campaign staff is being investigated. The Murphy campaign noted that a conservative super PAC earlier this year filed a complaint on the issue that the FBI is looking into.... The FBI investigation, however, relates to Murphy's first run for the House in the 2012 campaign cycle.... The allegation -- originally submitted by a Republican super PAC run by a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- is that Murphy's high school friend and major political donor, Ibrahim Al-Rashid, coordinated a 'straw donor' scheme to boost Murphy."...

     ... CW: Looks as if we're seeing a pattern here consistent with the Clinton "investigations": (1) Confederates concoct story involving foreigners who have ties to Democratic candidate; (2) Confederates notify receptive FBI agents; (3) agents open inquiry; (4) Confederates leak story to press; (5) Press publishes leaked news of investigation & allegations. Now if Rubio would only start calling Murphy "Crooked Patrick," the circle would be complete. Solution: campaign finance reform.

Other News & Views

Brian Stelter & Tom Kludt of CNN: "Hulk Hogan and the remnants of Gawker Media have struck a confidential settlement agreement, rewarding the wrestler with millions of dollars. 'After four years of litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a settlement has been reached. The saga is over,' Gawker founder Nick Denton wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.... As part of the settlement, Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, will receive $31 million in cash, according to a court filing." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Brian Feldman of New York: "Even people suspicious or dismissive of the Hogan story -- concerning as it did a sex tape -- should feel nervous about the fact that two indisputably true articles were taken down because their subjects were lucky enough to find a billionaire backer with a grudge.... But this is what happens when a billionaire goes to war against you. As Denton writes, the drain of looming litigation had become unsustainable, in particular because the lawsuits personally targeted journalists.... [Billionaire Peter] Thiel [CW: a Trump backer] is so wealthy as to place him effectively outside the network of incentives that make the legal system a just forum for negotiating disputes." -- CW

Dina Bass of Bloomberg: "Microsoft Corp. said a computer-hacking group that has previously targeted government agencies attacked its Windows software and Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash program. The company will release a security patch for its operating system on Nov. 8, Windows chief Terry Myerson said Tuesday in a blog post on Microsoft's website. Users of Microsoft's Edge browser on the latest update to Windows 10 are protected from the flaw, the company said. The security exploit, by a group Microsoft calls Strontium, was discovered by Google's Threat Analysis Group and announced on Monday." CW: Several sites (here's one) recommended disabling Flash. I just uninstalled mine. I hope Adobe gets its fix up soon, as I need Flash to cover the election results since I don't have cable TV where I am. If you depend on Flash, at least make sure you have the latest update. If you're using Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is supposed to protect you. (Also linked yesterday.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

Brexit? Not So Fast. Owen Bowcott & Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit by notifying Brussels of the UK's intention to leave the European Union, the high court has ruled. The judgment (pdf), delivered by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, is likely to slow the pace of Britain's departure from the EU and is a huge setback for Theresa May, who had insisted the government alone would decide when to trigger the process. The lord chief justice said that 'the most fundamental rule of the UK constitution is that parliament is sovereign'. A government spokesman said ministers would appeal to the supreme court against the decision. The hearing will take place on 7-8 December." -- CW

News Lede

New York Times: "Investigators quickly identified a suspect in the slayings [of two Iowa police officers], who then surrendered -- a local man described as a troubled loner who was familiar to the police in his suburban town, Urbandale. He had a string of arrests and confrontations with officers and others, but nothing in his record approached the scale of violence that erupted here." -- CW

Tuesday
Nov012016

The Commentariat -- November 2, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Trump Alt-Right Allies Plan Election-Day Mayhem. Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website 'the Right Stuff' are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city's 'ghetto' on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either 'informally' or, they say, through the Trump campaign. The Oath Keepers, a group of former law enforcement and military members that often shows up in public heavily armed, is advising members to go undercover and conduct 'intelligence-gathering' at polling places, and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is organizing his own exit polling, aiming to monitor thousands of precincts across the country." -- CW

** Gardiner Harris & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "President Obama sharply criticized the decision by his F.B.I. director to alert Congress on Friday about the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton server case, implying that it violated investigative guidelines and trafficked in innuendo. 'We don't operate on incomplete information,' Mr. Obama said in an interview with NowThis News, broadcast Wednesday. 'We don't operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the F.B.I., the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn't anything there that was prosecutable,' Mr. Obama said." -- CW ...

... Jessie Hellmann of the Hill: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) floated the possibility Wednesday that FBI Director James Comey could be one 'the casualties' of the 2016 election.... 'Maybe he's not in the right job,' Pelosi said to CNN. 'I think that we have to just get through this election and just see what the casualties are along the way.'" -- CW ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The FBI never asked Hillary Clinton's top aides to turn over all the computers and smartphones they used while Clinton was secretary of state, an omission that is now triggering questions from Republican lawmakers." CW Translation: We fucked up, so now we're obliged to fuck up the election. ...

... David Mack of BuzzFeed: "The teenage girl who allegedly received indecent messages from Anthony Weiner said she is 'upset' with FBI Director James Comey after she found out via the media that her case had been tied to the use of Hillary Clinton's private email server.... 'The FBI asked for me to speak to the media as little as possible. I have tried to stay quiet, but Comey has upset me,' the teenager told BuzzFeed News. 'The last thing that I wanted was to have this become political propaganda.'" -- CW

The Trumpster Hosts the Mobster. Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News: "A newly uncovered video appears to contradict Donald Trump's claim that he never knew a high-stakes gambler who was banned from New Jersey casinos for alleged ties to organized crime. The reputed mob figure, Robert LiButti, can be seen standing alongside Trump in the front row of a 1988 'WrestleMania' match in Atlantic City, N.J.... Edith Creamer, [LiButti's daughter...,] also attended the event. 'We were his guests,' she told Yahoo News in a text message this week.... The video appears to lend new support to assertions Trump once had close relations with LiButti, who was banned from the state's casinos in 1991 because of his ties to Mafia boss John Gotti, then the chief of the Gambino crime syndicate. Separately, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission that same year levied $650,000 in fines against the Trump Plaza hotel over its dealings with LiButti, who gambled huge sums at the hotel's casino. LiButti died in 2014." CW: Maybe dead men tell no tales, but videotapes and daughters do.

Josh Gerstein: "Lawyers suing Donald Trump for fraud over his Trump University real-estate seminar program say his campaign trail statements -- including some alleged whoppers -- should be fair game at a civil trial set to start later this month. Last week, Trump's attorneys asked that all his comments connected to his presidential campaign be off limits in the class-action lawsuit, along with all discussion of what his legal team euphemistically called 'personal conduct accusations.'... 'Donald Trump's dizzying array of objectively false, contradictory, and self-defeating statements have left him so flummoxed he is demanding that the Court create a new category of immunity to protect him from himself,' the plaintiffs' attorneys wrote. 'As a key witness in a case about his deception of others, Trump's representations, acts (or lack thereof), and credibility will be among the most important issues for the jury to determine. Trump wants to rig the deck by hiding from the jury his own words.'" -- CW

Brian Stelter & Tom Kludt of CNN: "Hulk Hogan and the remnants of Gawker Media have struck a confidential settlement agreement, rewarding the wrestler with millions of dollars. 'After four years of litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a settlement has been reached. The saga is over,' Gawker founder Nick Denton wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.... As part of the settlement, Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, will receive $31 million in cash, according to a court filing." -- CW

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "A historically black church in Greenville, Mississippi was set on fire and vandalized with graffiti reading 'vote Trump' on Tuesday night. 'It is being investigated as a hate crime,' Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons told TPM on Wednesday...." -- CW

*****

** Dina Bass of Bloomberg: "Microsoft Corp. said a computer-hacking group that has previously targeted government agencies attacked its Windows software and Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash program. The company will release a security patch for its operating system on Nov. 8, Windows chief Terry Myerson said Tuesday in a blog post on Microsoft's website. Users of Microsoft's Edge browser on the latest update to Windows 10 are protected from the flaw, the company said. The security exploit, by a group Microsoft calls Strontium, was discovered by Google's Threat Analysis Group and announced on Monday." CW: Several sites (here's one) recommended disabling Flash. I just uninstalled mine. I hope Adobe gets its fix up soon, as I need Flash to cover the election results since I don't have cable TV where I am. If you depend on Flash, at least make sure you have the latest update. If you're using Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is supposed to protect you.

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "Trump remains an underdog, but no longer really a longshot: His Electoral College chances are 29 percent in our polls-only model -- his highest probability since Oct. 2 -- and 30 percent in polls-plus.... This isn't a secure map for Clinton at all." -- CW ...

... Evelyn Rupert of the Hill: "More than a quarter of Republicans who have already voted in Florida cast their ballots for ... Hillary Clinton, according to a new poll. A TargetSmart/William & Mary poll released Tuesday showed 28 percent of early Florida voters picked Clinton over ... Donald Trump.... The poll also showed Clinton ahead of Trump 48 to 40 percent overall, with a larger lead -- 55 to 37 percent -- among those who said they already voted." -- CW ...

... Matthew Burns of WRAL Raleigh: "With a week to go until Election Day, Republican Donald Trump has seized control of a tight presidential race in North Carolina, according to an exclusive WRAL News poll released Tuesday. SurveyUSA polled 659 people statewide Friday through Monday who have already cast their ballots or are likely to vote in the election and found Trump with a 51 to 44 percent lead over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton." -- CW

Matt Flegenheimer & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton moved on Tuesday to return the nation's focus to the character and behavior of Donald J. Trump, hoping to define the presidential race again as a referendum on her opponent after spending days in open conflict with the F.B.I.... Her remarks [in Dade City, Fla.,] signaled the campaign's direction in the homestretch: a barrage intended to disqualify Mr. Trump with brutal efficiency.... Mr. Trump, campaigning on Tuesday in Pennsylvania before Mrs. Clinton took the stage, made clear his intent to keep the pressure high. He fused a policy speech, ostensibly on health care, with his more typical broadsides against Mrs. Clinton, briefly holding forth on his announced subject, the Affordable Care Act, but quickly meandering to other topics." -- CW ...

... John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Clinton made her most direct appeal yet Tuesday for women to reject the candidacy of Donald Trump, recounting at length a history of degrading statements about women made by her Republican rival, as well as allegations of unwanted sexual advances.... Trump, meanwhile, concentrated his rhetoric of the day on the Affordable Care Act, saying he would call a 'special session' of Congress to repeal and replace the law that he says is causing rising health insurance premiums, an issue he is trying to weigh down the Clinton campaign with." -- CW ...

     ... CW: A "special session"? Really? Paul Waldman: Well, yes, "apparently because he has no idea how Congress works and thinks it's like the Texas legislature that only meets for a short time every two years." -- CW

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Speaking to a boisterous crowd at Capital University [in Columbus, Ohio,] Tuesday, President Obama told attendees they need to be as galvanized about the prospect of electing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as they are about cashing in on a free Taco Bell offer.... Before addressing the main crowd, Obama dropped by the overflow room, where hundreds of supporters screamed and snapped photos on their phones as he told them this election 'is too important to sit out.'... During his speech, Obama joked repeatedly with the crowd, making fun of Trump for suggesting he identifies with working Americans.... Trump never donned a baseball hat, Obama joked, 'until he started selling them.'" -- CW

Ashley Alman of the Huffington Post: "Vice President Joe Biden ... told attendees at a rally [in Charlotte, N.C.,] that the whole world is watching the presidential race, and 'what happens here matters to them.' He chastised Trump for his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.... [He also said,] 'Can you imagine any president in the history of the United States of America, all the way from George Washington to Barack Obama, assuming the technology existed, can you imagine any president getting up at 3:30 in the morning and tweets vitriol, attacking a woman for her weight? Talks about women being pigs?" -- CW

Halimah Abdullah of NBC News: "Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey met Monday to discuss reviewing as swiftly as possible the newly discovered emails that could be related to their probe of Hillary Clinton's private server, officials told NBC News. Lynch and Comey spoke following their regular national security meeting at the Justice Department. During the meeting, which FBI and Justice Department officials described as cordial, Lynch expressed her continued confidence in Comey, one Justice Department official told NBC News.... Officials tell NBC News the process of combing through the emails [in Huma Abedin's folder] is ongoing and is taking longer than originally anticipated.It is likely that a relatively small number will be related to that case, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation into emails related to the probe of Clinton's private server told NBC News on Monday." -- CW ...

... Now is the time for the New York Times to come to the aid of the Republican party....

     ... If yesterday's story clearing Trump of "inappropriate" ties to Russia weren't enough -- it was -- today's story fingers Clinton for Clinton Foundation wrongdoings. Read on ...

... Matt Apuzzo, et al., of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. and Justice Department faced a hard decision in two investigations this past summer that had the potential to rock the presidential election. The first case involved Donald J. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and secretive business dealings in Ukraine. The second focused on Hillary Clinton's relationships with donors to her family foundation. At the urging of the Justice Department, the F.B.I. agreed not to issue subpoenas or take other steps that would make the cases public so close to the election, according to federal law enforcement officials. Against this backdrop, the decision of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to send a letter to Congress last week about a renewed inquiry concerning Mrs. Clinton's emails is not just a departure from longstanding policy; it has plunged the F.B.I. and the Justice Department directly into the election, precisely what Justice officials were trying to avoid." ...

     ... CW: Wait till you read the "evidence" the FBI gathered on the Clinton Foundation: "The investigation, based in New York..., was based mostly on information that had surfaced in news stories and the book 'Clinton Cash.'" Right. Because news stories produced zero evidence of wrongdoing -- all they had was headline innuendo, and Clinton Cash is an "error-filled" right-wing screed. But that's okay, NYT, slime Hillary with it in your lede graf. ...

... WTF? Tom LoBianco of CNN: "The FBI on Tuesday -- one week from Election Day -- released heavily redacted files from its 2001 investigation of President Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich.... The release was posted on Twitter by @FBIRecordsVault, an account that posts material from FOIA requests on subjects of public interest.... Prior to Sunday, however, the account hadn't tweeted since October 2015.... Bill Clinton pardoned Rich on his last day in office, one of his most controversial decisions as president. 'Absent a (Freedom of Information Act) litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in '70s?' tweeted Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton's campaign." Comey had pursued Rich when Rich was a fugitive from the U.S. Thanks to BobbyLee for the heads-up. -- CW: Looking forward to seeing a link to the Starr Report prominently placed on the FBI's home page. And more pix of the blue dress, please. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... It Gets Worse. Dara Lind of Vox: "... federal investigators ultimately concluded that the Clintons hadn't done anything wrong. That federal investigation, incidentally, was supervised by then-US Attorney James Comey.... The problem is that the documents the FBI just released don't actually establish that there wasn't any wrongdoing -- because they don't cover the end of the investigation. This is 'part 1' of the document dump (presumably other parts will be released later). Instead, what we get are 64 entirely redacted pages, followed by 100 heavily redacted pages -- with the exception of passages outlining Clinton's pardon of Rich, and saying 'it appears that the required pardon standards and procedures were not followed.'" CW: The unusual release is just a coincidence, I'm sure. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: "For the second time in five days, the FBI had moved exactly to the place the nation's chief law enforcement agency usually strives to avoid: smack in the middle of partisan fighting over a national election, just days before the vote. The publication of the files related to the Marc Rich pardon inquiry, which agency officials said was posted automatically in response to pending public records requests, came as the Clinton campaign and Democratic lawmakers continued to fume over FBI Director James B. Comey's decision with less than two weeks before the election to announce that he was effectively resuming a review of Hillary Clinton's email practices.... FBI officials said the timing [of the Rich pardon release] was coincidental.... As of Tuesday morning, an official said, investigators had found no sign that the computer contained 'new and bigger' evidence about Clinton." -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "Clearly, there are FBI sources dissatisfied with decisions made not to keep investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton's e-mails and/or the Clinton Foundation. They're talking. There also seem to be FBI sources who are frustrated with what they see as the too-close-by-half relationship of the Donald Trump campaign to Russian oligarchs up to and including Vladimir Putin. They're talking. And there are people completely outraged by the bungling attempts by FBI director James Comey to involve himself so directly in the presidential election, and they're all talking. The FBI, in short, is out of control.... They can do more damage by accident than any terrorist can do on purpose. Like it or not, and I don't, the FBI is a player in the 2016 presidential election.... This is damage that will last." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: “Donald Trump has run what is easily the most dishonest presidential campaign of our lifetimes.... Yet in spite of this, today's Post tracking poll finds that Trump holds an edge of eight points over Clinton on the question of which candidate is viewed as the more honest and trustworthy one.... Just look at this new ad that the Trump campaign rolled out this morning.... It repeats a barrage of charges about the Clinton Foundation and supposed pay-to-play, and then tacks on the claim about the FBI, as if she's being just investigated for general corruption, with the details not mattering in the least.... The point is that the vagueness of Comey's letter is precisely what made it possible for Trump and Republicans to hype the precise significance of the new discovery into something much greater than the sum of the known facts.... Meanwhile, the media played a role here, too." Includes ad. -- CW ...

... Dan Merica of CNN: "Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's longtime -- and arguably closest -- aide, has stepped off the campaign trail in the wake of the FBI's announcement last week that it was investigating thousands of emails found on a laptop shared by her and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.... A Clinton aide said Tuesday that Abedin was working from the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn." -- CW

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Libertarian vice-presidential nominee Bill Weld says he thinks running mate Gary Johnson would make a good president, and he still has campaign events scheduled through Election Day. But with just one week to go in the election, he's devoting an awful lot of time to explaining why voters should support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Tuesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts gave his most pro-Clinton interview yet, saying, 'I'm here vouching for Mrs. Clinton, and I think it's high time somebody did.'" -- CW

Frank Bruni: Hillary Clinton's "journey doesn't only reflect the advances of women. It has also been shaped by the appetites and anxieties of men.... And it has exposed gross male behavior while prompting fresh examples of it. Prominent men on the edge of obsolescence have never acted so wounded, so angry, so desperate. Yes, Newt Gingrich, I'm looking at you.... Donald Trump's candidacy is an unalloyed expression of male id: Yield to me, worship me, never question the expanse of my reach, do not impugn the majesty of my endowment. It's less a political mission than a hormonal one, and it harks back to an era when women were arm candy.... Clinton gets under Trump's skin in a way that male rivals didn't. In that sense, her gender is not a weakness but a weapon. It's about time." -- CW

Chris Massie of CNN: "Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and former Democratic National Committee chairman, said Tuesday that Hillary Clinton's campaign was making a mistake by attacking FBI director James Comey over how he handled recent developments into the investigation of Clinton's private server." CW: Could somebody please take this old boy to a communications-free location? He's become a danger to democracy.

Louis Nelson of Politico: "Donald Trump has a message for voters in certain states who already cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton and are beginning to feel buyer's remorse: it's not too late. 'You can change your vote in six states,' Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. 'So, now that you see that Hillary was a big mistake, change your vote to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!'... Trump made that case in person Tuesday night in Wisconsin, a state where early or absentee voters can cast a ballot up to three times, canceling their previous one. Other states, including Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Mississippi have similar laws." -- CW

Washington Post Editors: "'I MEAN, who does that?' That was the question posed by Hillary Clinton at the last presidential debate about Donald Trump's use of charitable funds to purchase a six-foot portrait of himself.... It is someone who uses $264,631 of foundation funds to renovate a fountain outside one of his luxury hotels. It is someone who pulls a bait-and-switch on a public school chess team. It is someone who shamelessly hogs the spotlight at a charity function for sick children without having given a dime. Mr. Trump's approach to charity is that of a charlatan -- further evidence of a lack of character that makes the Republican nominee uniquely unfit for the Oval Office." -- CW ...

... The Tax Cheat, Ctd. New York Times Editors: "The latest disclosures about Mr. Trump's taxes ... further undercut the argument that he is uniquely qualified to fix what he has called a rigged system. Why would a man who has spent most of his professional life avoiding the shared responsibility of taxes all of a sudden care about helping others, especially those less fortunate? The truth is, of course, that he has no intention of doing so; according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Mr. Trump's tax proposals would confer by far the greatest advantages on the wealthiest Americans." -- CW ...

... Who's Corrupt? Digby, in Salon: "As Media Matters laid out on Monday, Trump is currently facing 75 different civil lawsuits for matters including fraud, breach of contract, nonpayment, sexual harassment and defamation. He has three pending Trump University fraud suits and is suspected of perpetrating a 'pay-for-play' scheme with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and possibly others to shut down a state investigation into the same fraudulent enterprise.... Trump has dealings with shady characters in various countries around the world that would greatly complicate American national security and its relationship to its allies. At the moment he has refused to give any information about his foreign holdings and media outlets have been strangely passive about asking him about it.... How is it possible that Clinton's email brouhaha has marked her as thoroughly corrupt and dishonest, while Trump's monumentally nefarious past, present and future are overlooked?" -- CW

Dana Milbank: Thanks to Roger Stone, Alex Jones & Co., the "Bill Clinton's black son" nonsense is back. "If past is prologue, Trump will, in this final week of the campaign, find a way to mention the story of Bill Clinton's love child. Stone to Jones to [Steve] Bannon to Trump: This is how Trump legitimizes the fringe. There's nothing furtive about this vast, right-wing conspiracy: Trump relies on the private advice of Stone, Jones and Bannon, and he has made their conspiracy theories mainstream." -- CW

Adam Raymond of New York: "... the Trump Organization already owns three key URLs that could point to a future in the media business: TrumpTelevision.com, TrumpNetwork.com, and TheTrumpNetwork.com. The latter two addresses once hosted content for a multilevel marketing company that sold vitamins and licensed Trump's name to help dupe people into joining. TrumpTelevision.com, on the other hand, appears to have never hosted anything, according to Yahoo. The Trump Organization has owned these sites since at least December 2012, but they've taken on a new relevance in light of Trump's rumored television ambitions." -- CW

The Appeasers. Adam Edelman of the New York Daily News: "House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have already cast their votes for Donald Trump, they said Tuesday." -- CW

Meet Your Trump Surrogates. Jordan Rudner & Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News: "Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller blamed hackers and then an overzealous staffer for a tweet from his campaign account that called Hillary Clinton a 'c[unt].' The tweet referred to presidential poll results in Pennsylvania: 'TRUMP 44' and 'C[unt] 43.'... Last year, [Miller] shared a post calling for the United States to bomb 'the Muslim world,' although he later attributed the post to a staffer. On another occasion, he compared Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes. Miller, who in recent days has emerged as one of Trump's most vocal Texas surrogates, has been tweeting rapidly for the last 24 hours, sharing poll results that show Clinton trailing Trump and sharing rumors about FBI Director James Comey.... Last week, Miller mocked the Clinton team in another tweet for being overly cautious about the Democratic candidate's Twitter account. 'My thoughts are my own,' he wrote." CW: Now that I believe. ...

... Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune: "In recent days, [Sid] Miller has become Trump's go-to guy when it comes to arguing that the presidential race in Texas and elsewhere is not exactly what polls say it is, an on-message ally in Trump's pursuit to convince Americans it ain't over 'til it's over.... And he seems to have seriously caught the attention of the nominee, who has not only shouted him out at multiple rallies but also personally sent him an email thanking him for his help." CW: Anyone who calls his opponent a cunt is a Trump kind of guy.

Meet Your Trump Supporters, Ctd. Peter Holley of the Washington Post: "Among the small number of American newspapers that have embraced Donald Trump's campaign, there is one, in particular, that stands out. It is called the Crusader -- and it is one of the prominent newspapers of the Ku Klux Klan. Under the banner 'Make America Great Again,' the paper's current issue devoted its entire front page to a lengthy defense of Trump's message -- an embrace some have labeled a de facto endorsement." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Brian Stelter of CNN: "Radio host Sean Hannity on Tuesday embraced a piece of fake news about President Obama deleting endorsements of Hillary Clinton from his Twitter account. Hannity used the made-up news to claim that President Obama's legacy might be 'jail.' The deleted-tweets claim could have been disproven by a quick Twitter search. Later in the day, Hannity tweeted a correction and apologized." ...

     ... CW: Maybe we should mention here that besides being a radical confederate assbag, Hannity is a stupid, radical confederate assbag. Even the lamest of lamebrains would question a story about Obama's de-endorsing Clinton on a day he was out campaigning for her. ...

... CW: What a nice roundup: A Trump-approved guy who calls Clinton a cunt, the KKK & the Dumbest Man in Media. There's your Trump base: misogynists, foaming-at-the-mouth racists/xenophobes/anti-Semites & ignoramuses.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post: " CNN president Jeff Zucker described former network commentator Donna Brazile's interactions with the Clinton campaign as 'unethical' and 'disgusting' during a Tuesday editorial meeting, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.... On Monday, CNN announced Brazile resigned on Oct. 14 ― three days after the first email surfaced ― and reiterated that the network hadn't provided her with questions.... On Monday, Brazile referred questions back to her Oct. 11 statement in which she said that 'as it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.' The revelations that Brazile tipped off the Clinton campaign has drawn attention to the common practice of networks hiring partisan operatives whose loyalties may be more to their parties or desired candidates than the audience." Corey Lewandowski. -- CW

Congressional Races

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "... one simple factor that [has created gridlock] has received [little] attention: partisan control of the House and Senate is up for grabs more often than in previous eras. When the party that does not control the White House has a realistic chance of winning a congressional majority in one or both chambers, the incentives for House members and senators to cooperate with the President of the opposing party plummet. When that happens, all of the familiar elements of the permanent campaign -- fund-raising, releasing attack ads, using Congress to highlight ideological differences -- become more important, while serious efforts at legislating diminish." -- CW

Election News & Views

Laura McCrystal & Angela Couloumbis of Philly.com: "Pennsylvania state police have raided a Delaware County political field office seeking evidence of possible voter-registration fraud, according to court records. In a warrant filed late last week in County Court, investigators said they were seeking documents, financial information, and lists of employees at the Norwood office of FieldWorks LLC, a national organization that often does street work for Democrats, records show.... FieldWorks describes itself as 'a nationally recognized grassroots organizing firm founded to help progressive organizations, advocacy groups, and members of the Democratic family take their public engagement and electoral strategies to the next level.'" -- CW

** "Here's What Happens When You Forget to Vote." Brian Beutler: "... now, we're seeing leaks to news outlets from FBI officials that reflect generously on Donald Trump and negatively on Clinton. The New York Times' FBI sources, for instance, are at pains to insulate Trump from politically damaging evidence that he and Russian intelligence and propaganda outlets are operating symbiotically. And this Wall Street Journal article details an intense appetite, in FBI field offices across the country, for pursuing every possible investigative avenue related to Clinton.... There is a through line connecting all of these inconsistent election-season dynamics. It extends all the way back to 2010, when complacent Democrats didn't show up to vote, handing control of the House to the Republican Party, and makes a stopover in 2014, when many of these same complacent Democrats didn't show up again, and ceded the Senate to Republicans as well.... The only way for Democratic voters to tidy this up, and put safeguards in place to prevent similar outrages going forward, is to vote in overwhelming numbers and retake Congress altogether." -- CW

Other News & Views

Sam Levin of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has suggested the Dakota Access pipeline could be rerouted around sacred Native American lands in comments that are the president's first on the controversial oil project since police arrested hundreds of indigenous protesters during violent clashes. After months of pleas from activists in North Dakota to stop construction of a pipeline that the Standing Rock tribe says could contaminate its water supply and threaten its cultural heritage, Obama said in an interview released on Tuesday night that the government was 'going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans'." -- CW

Matt Apuzzo & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "A federal judge has rejected the settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslims, saying the proposed deal does not provide enough oversight of an agency that he said had shown a 'systemic inclination' to ignore rules protecting free speech and religion." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

What Is Wrong with Us? Liam Stack & Christine Hauser of the New York Times: "Adam Crapser was adopted from South Korea nearly four decades ago, but today he languishes in an immigration detention center in Washington State awaiting deportation because his American parents never filed citizenship paperwork for him.... According to the Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, there are about 35,000 people in the United States who were adopted by American couples as children but who do not have citizenship." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "The Roman Catholic Church's teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests is likely to last forever, Pope Francis said on Tuesday as he flew back to Rome from Sweden. Francis had traveled to Sweden for a historic ceremony commemorating the year leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. He was embraced at an ecumenical church service by the primate of the Church of Sweden, Archbishop Antje Jackelen, who is a woman." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

There Are Still Heroes. Travis Andrews of the Washington Post: A San Francisco cop, Sgt. John Cagney, would not give up on finding men who in 2014 brutally beat to death a disabled homeless man for the fun of it. This year he arrested two of the three (alleged) murderers.

Time for Another Armed Standoff. Kevin Sullivan & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Less than a week after being acquitted at a trial over last winter's armed occupation of an Oregon federal wildlife refuge, Nevada rancher Ryan Bundy said another protest action will be justified if President Obama goes ahead with plans to create a huge national monument abutting the Bundy family's ranch here." CW: Thanks, Oregon jurors!

News Ledes

ESPN: "After a century and eight years, the Chicago Cubs are world champions, and they did it by surviving a game for the ages, a contest in which they finally slew demons that refused to be exorcised. The baseball facts matter, especially these, though they hardly do justice to the scale of the outcome or the level of drama that unfolded. In what seemed like the most heartbreaking yet of nightmarish Cubs postseason games gone wrong, Ben Zobrist's 10th-inning double off Bryan Shaw broke a 6-6 tie, and the Cubs outlasted the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a title-winning, drought-breaking, impossible-to-believe Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two police officers in central Iowa were shot and killed early Wednesday morning in a pair of 'ambush-style attacks,' the Des Moines Police Department said. Police said both officers were sitting in their squad cars when they were killed. Authorities on Wednesday morning named Scott Michael Greene, 46, as the suspect in the shootings that killed the officers from Des Moines and Urbandale, a nearby city." -- CW ...

     ... Des Moines Register Update: "The suspect in Wednesday's killings was removed [by police] from Urbandale High School's football stadium Oct. 14 after he claimed his Confederate flag was stolen by other spectators, authorities said. The stadium is at the intersection where one of officers was found dead early Wednesday." Clarke apparently took videos of parts of the incident. In the videos, he accused the police of abuse & of violating his civil rights." -- CW

Monday
Oct312016

The Commentariat -- November 1, 2016

Afternoonish Update:

WTF? Tom LoBianco of CNN: "The FBI on Tuesday -- one week from Election Day -- released heavily redacted files from its 2001 investigation of President Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich.... The release was posted on Twitter by @FBIRecordsVault, an account that posts material from FOIA requests on subjects of public interest.... Prior to Sunday, however, the account hadn't tweeted since October 2015.... Bill Clinton pardoned Rich on his last day in office, one of his most controversial decisions as president. 'Absent a (Freedom of Information Act) litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in '70s?' tweeted Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton's campaign." Comey had pursued Rich when Rich was a fugitive from the U.S. Thanks to BobbyLee for the heads-up. -- CW: Looking forward to seeing a link to the Starr Report prominently placed on the FBI's home page. And more pix of the blue dress, please. ...

... It Gets Worse. Dara Lind of Vox: "... federal investigators ultimately concluded that the Clintons hadn't done anything wrong. That federal investigation, incidentally, was supervised by then-US Attorney James Comey.... The problem is that the documents the FBI just released don't actually establish that there wasn't any wrongdoing -- because they don't cover the end of the investigation. This is 'part 1' of the document dump (presumably other parts will be released later). Instead, what we get are 64 entirely redacted pages, followed by 100 heavily redacted pages -- with the exception of passages outlining Clinton's pardon of Rich, and saying 'it appears that the required pardon standards and procedures were not followed.'" CW: The unusual release is just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Matt Apuzzo & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "A federal judge has rejected the settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslims, saying the proposed deal does not provide enough oversight of an agency that he said had shown a 'systemic inclination' to ignore rules protecting free speech and religion." -- CW

What Is Wrong with Us? Liam Stack & Christine Hauser of the New York Times: "Adam Crapser was adopted from South Korea nearly four decades ago, but today he languishes in an immigration detention center in Washington State awaiting deportation because his American parents never filed citizenship paperwork for him.... According to the Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, there are about 35,000 people in the United States who were adopted by American couples as children but who do not have citizenship." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

** "Comey's Blunder Could Make Trump President." Jonathan Chait of New York: "We don't know yet if James Comey's surprise Friday announcement will reshape the race in a similar fashion. But it is entirely plausible to believe that it will. He has revived Clinton's ethics and alleged illegality as the front-and-center question before the voters in the race's final week. To assume Comey's statement will have no effect, as many hopeful Clinton supporters do, is to assume the voters will respond in a way they have not responded before.... It is vanishingly unlikely that Comey had any intent to sway the electorate." --safari ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "... Donald Trump has overtaken ... Hillary Clinton for the first time since May in the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll. Trump has a 1-point lead over the former secretary of State, 46 to 45 percent, as of Tuesday morning.... Clinton led Trump by 1 point, 46 percent to 45 percent, in the same poll over the weekend. She held a 12-point lead, 50 to 38 percent, in the poll just more than one week ago." Emphasis added. -- CW ...

... Nate Silver: "We got another set of mixed results on Monday on whether the election has tightened further as a result of FBI Director James Comey's letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton's email server. Overall, however, this is a fairly negative set of data for Clinton." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent speculates on what may happen if Clinton wins a close election. -- CW ...

... Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed: "Eight days from the election, Hillary Clinton's closing argument now includes a brief aside: 'We are about to enter the final week of this election.... But let me start with this: I am sure a lot of you may be asking what this new email story is about...;.' Kicking off the first of two rallies here in Ohio, during one of her final swings through the crucial battleground state, Clinton diverted from a speech targeting Donald Trump's foreign policy credentials to address the new headlines about the FBI and her private email server." -- CW ...

... John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "Top aides for Hillary Clinton on Monday accused FBI Director James Comey of a 'double standard' in his handling of the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook called on Comey to explain why he rushed to disclose new information about the status of the investigation into Clinton, while reportedly opposing, on the grounds that it would be too close to the election, a public statement by the FBI that the Russian government was seeking the influence the presidential race. 'It is impossible to view this as anything less than a blatant double standard,' Mook said.... Clinton's press secretary, Brian Fallon, said that Comey 'set a standard for narrating a play-by-play for matters involving Hillary Clinton,' but has not set the same standard for inquiries into Russian hacking and potential ties to Republican nominee Donald Trump's campaign. 'Director Comey owes the public an explanation for this inconsistency,' Fallon said." -- CW ...

     ... Patrick Caldwell of Mother Jones elaborates on the Clinton campaign's conference call with reporters." -- CW ...

     ... ** The Guardian's story, by Dan Roberts & others, is here. ...

... ** Eamon Javers of CNBC: "FBI Director James Comey argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI's name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out, a former bureau official tells CNBC. The official said some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the Huma Abedin email discovery disclosure he made Friday. In the end, the Department of Homeland Security and The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued the statement on Oct. 7." --safari (See also the WashPo's expanded story, linked below, by Sari Horwitz, et al.,.) ...

It's important that [federal] authorities are tempered by longstanding practice and norms that limit public discussion of facts that are collected in the context of those investigations.... And there are a lot of good reasons for that. The president believes that it's important for those guidelines and norms to be followed. -- John Earnest, press briefing, Monday ...

... Michael Schmidt, et al., of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. on Monday began loading a trove of emails belonging to a top aide to Hillary Clinton into a special computer program that would allow bureau analysts to determine whether they contain classified information, law enforcement officials said.... Whether they will be able to complete their review by Election Day is unclear.... Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that the White House did not have an official position on Mr. Comey's decision to alert Congress. But Mr. Earnest came close to suggesting that President Obama saw Mr. Comey's decision as problematic." CW: Nice to know Comey gets to drop an election-altering bombshell on Friday, but he doesn't put his agents on weekend OT to clean up his mess, even as millions of Americans are voting. ...

... Sari Horwitz & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department sent a brief letter to six lawmakers Monday, saying that the department will work closely with the FBI to take 'appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible' in the renewed investigation into emails potentially tied to Hillary Clinton's private email server. The three paragraph letter written by Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter J. Kadzik said that the department and FBI will 'dedicate all necessary resources' to the investigation, but provided no further details about the contents of the emails or whether they are significant. The short statement on behalf of Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey represents an effort by the Justice Department to stabilize and assert control over a politically explosive situation....' -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The story has been expanded. "Justice officials said there will be no further statements or news conferences about the Clinton investigation until it is completed.... Comey’s disclosure about the Clinton probe is particularly striking, national security officials said, because he had argued against the administration publicly accusing Russia of trying to meddle in the 2016 election as a move that would seem too political too close to Election Day." -- CW ...

     ... Ed Kilgore: "... it will be hard to unring that bell [Comey rang Friday], just as it will be difficult for Comey to make it sound like he had no choice but to toss a stink bomb into the presidential campaign in late October." -- CW ...

     ... Betty Cracker of Balloon Juice: "Comey is either willfully injecting himself into the presidential race, too chickenshit to stand up to partisan dickheads like Jason Chaffetz and rogue agents who allegedly threatened to leak investigation details or lacks the judgment to comprehend the effect of his actions. Whether through partisan hackery, cravenness or naiveté, he's not fit to lead the FBI." -- CW ...

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "Comey's GOP critics seem to be piling up by the hour. On Monday, one of the most conservative members of Congress criticized Comey's timing. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) chairs the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus and has been agitating for Clinton to be investigated for perjury related to her use of a private email server. But he told told Fox News Radio: 'I think this was probably not the right thing for Comey to do -- the protocol here -- to come out this close to an election, but this whole case has been mishandled, and now it is what it is.' Jordan was the first sitting GOP member of Congress to publicly criticize Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama. But within minutes, others joined him." -- CW

... New York Daily News Editors: "FBI Director James Comey's democracy-bending decision to inform America, 11 days before its presidential election, that the bureau is digging into a trove of additional emails demands the highest condemnation. And he must resign." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... New York Times Editors: "... thanks to Mr. Comey's breathtakingly rash and irresponsible decision, the Justice Department and F.B.I. are scrambling to process hundreds of thousands of emails to determine whether there is anything relevant in them before Nov. 8 -- all as the country stands by in suspense. This is not how federal investigations are conducted. In claiming to stand outside politics, Mr. Comey has instead created the hottest political football of the 2016 election.... In an election that has featured the obliteration of one long-accepted political or social norm after another, it is sadly fitting that one of the final and perhaps most consequential acts was to undermine the American people's trust in the nation's top law enforcement agencies." -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: Comey has clammed up. So "let's imagine what a fully transparent Comey might say about the mess he made." Pretty funny. "What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did, why we did it and what we found. The answers: 'We screwed up,' 'I was trying to cover my backside' and 'Darned if I know.'" -- CW ...

... Conservative WashPo columnist Jennifer Rubin reads Comey the riot act. She even spells out what Comey could have written if he really felt such a compelling need to suck up to Congressional Republicans. As Kevin Drum points out, linked below, even crazy winger Joe Walsh tweeted that "what [Comey] just did 11 days b4 the election is wrong & unfair to Hillary." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... J. Edgar Comey. Digby in Salon: Comey has a history of bad acts going back to the Whitewater witch hunt. "... it wasn't long [after his appointment as director] until he showed that he wasn't going to adhere to the normal rules. Indeed, Comey is the first FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover to flout institutional processes, ignore scientific data and independently wield his authority however he chooses. Since taking office on 2013 he’s battled with the executive branch on sentencing reform and how to handle the Black Lives Matter movement. He's defied the White House in its attempt to create new policy on cybersecurity issues. He's gone around the country ginning up hysteria about ISIS infiltration in small-town America. And then there's the Clinton email investigation.... Law enforcement and justice officials have for years worried that his independent, authoritarian style was dangerous, making him politically unassailable in the same way that Hoover was back in the bad old days.... Unfortunately the damage [Comey did Friday] is already done. It's a mess that can be only cleaned up with Comey's resignation." -- CW ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "... we are witnessing the politicization of the FBI -- something that is extremely dangerous to our Constitutional order. What Comey (and AG Loretta Lynch) are now facing is something very similar to what has come to be known as the 'Saturday Night Massacre' when Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned rather than politicize the Watergate investigation. The difference is that in that case, the pressure came from the president rather than rogue elements in the FBI. This goes way beyond what is/isn't contained in these new emails. That is why the focus has shifted from Hillary Clinton to Comey's FBI." -- CW ...

... CW BTW: If I were a minority voter, I would identify in Comey's stunt exactly what law enforcement does to me every day: rushes to cast suspicion on me because of who I am. ...

... AND Robin Lakoff, in a Time op-ed: "Emailgate is a bitch hunt, but the target is not Hillary Clinton. It's us. The only reason the whole email flap has legs is because the candidate is female. Can you imagine this happening to a man? Clinton is guilty of SWF (Speaking While Female), and emailgate is just a reminder to us all that she has no business doing what she's doing and must be punished, for the sake of all decent women everywhere.... James Comey ... has repeatedly talked down to Clinton, admonishing her as a bad parent would a 5-year-old. He has accused her of 'poor judgment' and called her use of a private email server 'extremely careless.'... If the candidate were male, there would be no scolding and no 'scandal.'" -- CW ...

... CW: I don't know how Lakoff could write that. After all, the reason we're in this mess now is that Jim Comey was not about to listen to what a black woman told him to do just because the black woman was, you know,, his boss.

Hadas Gold of Politico: "CNN says it is 'completely uncomfortable' with hacked emails showing former contributor and interim DNC chair Donna Brazile sharing questions with the Clinton campaign before a debate and a town hall during the Democratic primary, and has accepted her resignation. Hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks show Brazile, whose CNN contract was suspended when she became interim DNC chair over the summer, sharing with the Clinton campaign a question that would be posed to Hillary Clinton before the March CNN Democratic debate in Flint, and sharing with the campaign a possible question prior to a CNN town hall also in March." CW: In her story, Gold doesn't bother to repeat what she herself has reported before: that Brazile denied giving the Clinton campaign a heads-up on questions and claimed she never had access to the questions in the first place. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW Update: I was wrong about Gold's report. In earlier reporting, she nailed Brazile for lying. Brazile's denial is bull.

... Michael Grynbaum's New York Times story makes it seem Brazile did in fact leak questions to the Clinton campaign, right down to the description of the voter who would ask the question. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Tim Hains
of Real Clear Politics: "At a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Donald Trump comments on the latest twist in the Hillary Clinton email saga. 'Thank you, Huma,' he declared to Hillary Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin. 'Good job, Huma.' To her husband he said: 'Thank you, Anthony Weiner!' '650,000 emails. You know what I call that? That's the motherlode,' he said about the emails discovered by the FBI on a computer owned by Anthony Weiner." -- CW

** The Biggest Tax Cheat. David Barstow, et al., of the New York Times: "Stretching the Law Beyond Recognition." Donald J. Trump proudly acknowledges he did not pay a dime in federal income taxes for years on end. He insists he merely exploited tax loopholes legally available to any billionaire -- loopholes he says Hillary Clinton failed to close during her years in the United States Senate.... But newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he were audited. Thanks to this one maneuver, which was later outlawed by Congress, Mr. Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes. It is impossible to know for sure because Mr. Trump has declined to release his tax returns, or even a summary of his returns, breaking a practice followed by every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate for more than four decades." Read on. -- CW

** Ken Dilanian, et al., of NBC News: "The FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort's foreign business connections, law enforcement and intelligence sources told NBC News Monday. Word of the inquiry, which has not blossomed into a full-blown criminal investigation, comes just days after FBI Director James Comey's disclosure that his agency is examining a new batch of emails connected to an aide to Hillary Clinton. And it comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Comey's revelation and asserted that Comey possesses 'explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.'" CW: Of course, Comey is not talking about that. At all. Because that would be wrong. ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones: "... a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump -- and that the FBI requested more information from him.... A senior US government official not involved in this case but familiar with the former spy tells Mother Jones that he has been a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government." Part of the spy's report to the FBI reads, "Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance." -- CW ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "Slate's Franklin Foer is reporting that computer experts say they've detected something very, very odd: A computer registered to Donald Trump's company that seems to have been set up to send and receive emails exclusively from a Russian bank." CW: I've linked to Hunter's post because Foer's is long & technical. You'll find it here. ...

... Kevin Drum credits this sudden interest in Trumpy the Putin Puppet to Harry Reid's "A+ troll" of Comey. ...

... BUT. FBI Immediately Exonerates Trump. Eric Lichtblau & Steven Myers of the New York Times: "For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead -- which they ultimately came to doubt -- about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank. Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump." CW: Could we be having another Judith Miller moment? Just asking. I'm not a partisan hack, you know. ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "Such an effort [Russia has made] to manipulate a US election by a hostile foreign government is all but unprecedented.... When you put it together with Trump's close support of Russian government policies on almost every front, his financial ties to Russian, and the number of close advisors with close ties to Putin and his allies, it's more than enough to ring every alarm bell.... If Trump is advocating for Russia in the US political arena (he is), and Russia is conducting an espionage and disruption campaign on Trump's behalf in the US political area (highly likely), do I need to know if they're actually talking to each other while both these things are happening? I'm not sure I do." -- CW

Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek. "Over the course of decades, Donald Trump's companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics ... have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump.... Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled -- sometimes in vain -- to obtain records. This behavior is of particular import given Trump's frequent condemnations of Hillary Clinton ... for having deleted more than 30,000 emails from a server she used during her time as secretary of state.... Trump has suggested repeatedly on the campaign trail that they were government documents Clinton was trying to hide and that destroying them constituted a crime." Clinton has asserted the deleted e-mails were not related to official business. -- Akhilleus (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AND Trump Stiffs His Pollster. Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation. But ... [Trump] appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign's latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio's firm says it is still owed for polling." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... German Lopez & Andrew Prokop of Vox: "There are hundreds of accusations that Trump refused to pay contractors and workers what they were owed, which the Wall Street Journal and USA Today compiled this year. 'The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump's sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years,' USA Today's Steve Reilly wrote. 'In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources.'... This is, apparently, how Trump has long done business. And it's only one small part of his long history of shady business practices and even outright corruption." -- CW

Travis Gettys of the Raw Story: "Author Salman Rushdie reminded voters that Trump will stand trial later this month in a racketeering lawsuit and then again next month as part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the Republican presidential nominee raped her when she was 13 years old. 'He is a sexual predator, hasn't released his tax returns, and has used his foundation's money to pay his legal fees,' Rushdie posted Sunday on his Facebook page. 'He has abused the family of a war hero and ... oh, but let's talk about some emails Hillary didn't send from someone else's computer, that weren't a crime anyway, because that's how to choose a president. Come on, America. Focus.'' -- CW

Eric Levitz & James Walsh of New York provide you a run-down on some of the craziest shit that has come out of the Trump campaign, just so you don't forget for election day. --safari

Henry Gomez of Cleveland.com: "Gov. John Kasich, who had vowed not to vote for ... Donald Trump, voted Monday by absentee ballot. His choice? Sen. John McCain of Arizona.... The vote essentially is a symbolic gesture. Because McCain is not among the 18 certified write-in candidates in Ohio, Kasich's vote for president will not count." -- CW

Meet Your Trump Supporters, Ctd. Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: "Prominent white nationalist William Johnson, an ardent supporter of Donald Trump's campaign who was previously listed as a California delegate for the Republican National Convention, has paid for a new robocall targeting #NeverTrump independent candidate Evan McMullin in Utah." In the robocall, scheduled to have begun last night, Johnson says McMullin's mother is a lesbian, and "I believe Evan is a closet homosexual." "Johnson has previously paid for robocalls on behalf of Trump, including one in February of this year where he implored voters not to support a 'Cuban' -- a reference to Trump's primary opponent Marco Rubio." -- CW

Senate Races

Another Confederate Confesses Bloodlust for Hillary Clinton. Manu Raju of CNN: "Sen. Richard Burr privately mused over the weekend that gun owners may want to put a 'bullseye' on Hillary Clinton, according to audio obtained by CNN. The North Carolina Republican, locked in a tight race for reelection, quipped that as he walked into a gun shop 'nothing made me feel better' than seeing a magazine about rifles 'with a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it.'...'I was a little bit shocked at that -- it didn't have a bullseye on it,' he said Saturday to GOP volunteers, prompting laughter from the crowd...But he also bluntly said that if Clinton is elected, he will do everything in his power to deny her the right to fill the vacant Supreme Court slot, aligning himself with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's position on the issue." This man is truly despicable. --safari ...

... Colin Campbell of the Raleigh News & Observer: "U.S. Sen. Richard Burr apologized Monday for saying he was surprised a magazine about guns didn't put a 'bullsey' on Hillary Clinton's face.... 'The comment I made was inappropriate, and I apologize for it,' Burr said in a written statement.... Libertarian Senate candidate Sean Haugh weighed in on Twitter: 'Yet another way @SenatorBurr and I are the exact opposite -- I'm firmly against assassinating my opponents.'... In other highlights from the leaked recording: Burr says he'll oppose any Clinton Supreme Court nominee: 'If Hillary becomes president, I'm going to do everything I can do to make sure that four years from now, we're still going to have an opening on the Supreme Court,' he said.... He's proud of blocking President Barack Obama's court appointment: ... 'I had the longest judicial vacancy in the history of the United States on the Eastern District of North Carolina. Not many people know that.'" -- CW ...

... Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Press? Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is taking [Donald Trump's media] blacklist to a new level. He is not merely withholding press passes from the News & Observer of Raleigh; he is refusing to even give the newspaper a schedule of events for his reelection campaign. The move, according to News & Observer reporter Colin Campbell, is 'effectively limiting the newspaper from reporting on Burr's public appearances.' It's tough to cover events you don't know about." -- CW

I'm just a politician from Missouri and proud of it. -- Harry Truman

New York Times Editors: Sen. Roy Blunt (R), in a tight race for re-election against Democrat Jason Kander, is "strapped to Donald Trump."

Election News & Views

** David Leonhardt of the New York Times on What to Do about Drumpf: Make a plan to vote. Tell your friends about it and ask them about theirs. Follow up. CW P.S.: If your friends are white guys of a certain age and POV, alter the plan.

So what's your plan?

Andy Sullivan of Reuters: "Democratic Party officials sued ... Donald Trump in four battleground states on Monday, seeking to shut down a poll-watching effort they said was designed to harass minority voters in the Nov. 8 election. In lawsuits filed in federal courts in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Ohio, Democrats argued that Trump and Republican Party officials were mounting a 'campaign of vigilante voter intimidation' that violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act and an 1871 law aimed at the Ku Klux Klan." -- CW

Marc Caputo of Politico: "After the first full weekend of in-person early voting ended Sunday, African-American turnout failed to meet expectations -- or historic precedent -- leaving top Democrats and activists fuming or worried that Clinton's campaign isn't living up to the hype in Florida." CW: Yo, Clinton campaign: Can't you remind Florida voters that Jim Comey fucked up the presidential election because he refused to do what his boss -- a black woman -- advised him to do? Wake up, people.

Other News & Views

"Trump's Appeasers." Frank Rich: "Once [aviator/fascist Charles] Lindbergh signed on to America First in April 1941, his pronouncements sounded like the Ur-text for much of Trump's America First campaign.... If Trump, who took to talking about 'the illusion of democracy,' often sounds like a dumbed-down version of [Lindburgh, so the Vichy Republicans supporting Trump use some of the same arguments Lindbergh and his fellow appeasers trotted out to rationalize their support of Hitler.... Some Hitler appeasers also judged Hitler as a lesser evil to FDR. As Hitler's bombs were raining down on England in 1940, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio argued that 'there is a great deal more danger of the infiltration of totalitarian ideas from the New Deal circles in Washington than there will ever be' from the Nazis. This is of a piece with the Vichy Republicans who claim that a Trump presidency is preferable to letting Clinton nominate justices to the Supreme Court.... " Read on. -- CW

David Gelles of the New York Times: "... the extreme right has a problem with Chobani: In its view, too many of those employees are refugees. As [owner & founder Hamdi] Ulukaya has stepped up his advocacy -- employing more than 300 refugees in his factories, starting a foundation to help migrants, and traveling to the Greek island of Lesbos to witness the crisis firsthand -- he and his company have been targeted with racist attacks on social media and conspiratorial articles on websites including Breitbart News.... Tthe mayor of Twin Falls[, Idaho,] has received death threats, partly as a result of his support for Chobani." CW: I have three tubs of Chobani in the fridge right now. Guess I'll go buy some more.

Beyond the Beltway

Ted Sherman & Matt Arco of NJ.com: "After six weeks and 35 witnesses, the defense and prosecution in the Bridgegate trial finished summations Monday, handing the case over to seven women and five men who will determine the fate of two former Christie administration insiders charged in a bizarre scheme of Jersey-style political retribution. In a dramatic final day, defense attorney Michael Critchley decried the government's chief witness as someone with 'a sick mind' whom he dubbed as the 'Bernie Madoff of New Jersey politics.' At the same time, prosecutors, in their rebuttal, told jurors the evidence showed that 'when they thought no one else was watching,' the two defendants engaged in a scheme to punish a mayor over his failure to support Gov. Chris Christie." -- CW

Capitalism is "Awesome", Ctd. Oil barons edition. Check out the allegedly sleazy tricks used by the oil companies trying to quell the Native American protests. In the backdrop of the Bundy Brothers acquittal, it's amazing to see how both issues have been completely buried by the establishment media, given the serious long-term implication of each one. --safari

Way Beyond

Loveday Morris & Mustafa Salim of the Washington Post: "Iraqi commanders on Tuesday said they were fighting inside an industrial district on the outer edge of Mosul, making their first breach into the northern Iraqi city that has been under Islamic State control for more than two years. Bringing the fight across the city lines does not change the overall challenges facing Iraqi troops trying to oust the militants from their last major stronghold in the country. But it reflects the steady advances by Iraqi soldiers and allied forces -- backed by U.S. airstrikes -- since the campaign to recapture Mosul was launched last month." -- CW

Capitalism is "Awesome", Ctd. Rob Evans, et al. of the Guardian: "Rolls-Royce plc, Britain's leading manufacturing multinational, hired a network of agents to help it land lucrative contracts in at least 12 different countries around the world, sometimes allegedly using bribes. An investigation by the Guardian and the BBC has uncovered leaked documents and testimony from insiders that suggest that Rolls-Royce may have benefited from the use of illicit payments to boost profits for years. The network of agents is now the focus of large-scale investigations by anti-corruption agencies in the UK and the US." --safari