The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "The deadly wildfires that engulfed two Tennessee tourist towns leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left at least seven dead and hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed, officials said late Wednesday as the terrible toll of the fires began to take focus. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, though their conditions were not known. Massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday with shocking speed, said those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. The fires are estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses — nearly half of them in the city of Gatlinburg. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was 'likely to be human-caused.'” -- CW

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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."

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Monday
Nov072016

The Commentariat -- November 8, 2016

Daily Beast illustration, with a little help from Norman Rockwell.

Afternoon Update:

Josh Voorhees of Slate: "We launched our collaboration with VoteCastr this morning with a look at the early vote out of Colorado, where Hillary Clinton is leading Donald Trump 46.3 percent to 43.6 percent based on VoteCastr's analysis of known ballots cast. ...

"Florida
2016 Early Vote: 3,685,667 early votes, 41.8 percent of total votes cast in 2012 Clinton: 1,780,573 early votes, 42.0 percent of Obama's 2012 total vote total Trump: 1,678,848 early votes, 40.3 percent of Romney's 2012 total vote total 2012 Results: Obama won, 50.0 percent to 49.1 percent

"Iowa 2016 Early Vote: 563,444 early votes, 35.6 percent of total votes cast in 2012 Clinton: 273,188 early votes, 33.2 percent of Obama's 2012 total vote total Trump: 244,739 early votes, 33.5 percent of Romney's 2012 total vote total 2012: Obama won, 52.1 percent to 46.5 percent

"Nevada
2016 Early Vote: 593,964 early votes, 58.5 percent of total votes cast in 2012 Clinton: 276,461 early votes, 52.0 percent of Obama's 2012 total vote total
Trump: 269,255 early votes, 58.1 percent of Romney's 2012 total vote total 2012: Obama won, 52.3 percent to 45.7 percent

"Ohio
2016 Early Vote: 1,320,559 early votes, 23.7 percent of total votes cast in 2012 Clinton: 632,433 early votes, 22.4 percent of Obama's 2012 total vote total Trump: 579,916 early votes, 21.8 percent of Romney's 2012 total vote total 2012: Obama won, 50.1 percent to 48.2 percent

"Pennsylvania
2016 Early Vote: 199,167 early votes, 3.5 percent of total votes cast in 2012 Clinton 85,367 early votes, 2.8 percent of Obama's 2012 total vote total Trump: 99,286 early votes, 3.7 percent of Romney's 2012 total vote total 2012: Obama won, 52.0 percent to 46.8 percent

"Wisconsin
2016 Early Vote: 560,455 early votes, 18.3 percent of total votes cast in 2012 Clinton 295,302 early votes, 18.2 percent of Obama's 2012 total vote total Trump: 225,281 early votes, 16.0 percent of Romney's 2012 total vote total
2012 Obama won, 52.8 percent to 46.1 percent" ...

... Go to this Slate page for details. Click on the bubbles for each state. ...

     ... Update: The site is currently showing election-day results only. Looks good for Clinton, except in Ohio, where Trump is significantly ahead, according to the estimates. Update update. Oops, not any more. Clinton is now ahead in Ohio, too. -- CW

Charles Stewart & Edward Foley of the Washington Post: Here's why the presidential & some other elections might not be decided even by early Wednesday morning ET: "In 2016, we expect that to be well over 20 percent. Some of these are tallied on election night, but not all.... The Help America Vote Act passed in 2002 mandated provisional voting, which allows voters whose registration is questioned to still cast a ballot. That ballot is not counted immediately. It's put in an envelope, much like an absentee ballot, and counted only if that voter's registration is verified later. Resolving provisional ballots can take days or, as happened in this year's California primary, weeks.... Our most recent research shows that these 'overtime' ballots tilt in favor of Democratic candidates for president." -- CW

Andrew Kaczynski & Nathan McDermott of CNN: "In radio interviews Tuesday, Donald Trump still would not unequivocally commit to accepting the outcome of the election." -- CW

If you want to know what it's like to be a Mrs. Trump -- any Mrs. Trump -- check here and here. In Trumpamerica, there will be no secret ballot. -- CW

Paul Lewis, Tom Silverstone & Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "Fox News has falsely implicated the protester who was beaten up at a Donald Trump rally in a case of voter fraud involving absentee ballots issued in the name of his 'dead' grandmother. Austyn Crites, a Republican protester who was assaulted at a Trump rally in Nevada, was stunned to see a TV report on Monday associating him with fraudulent voting connected to a grandmother Fox News claimed died in 2002. However, the Guardian met Wilda Austin, 90, in her living room in suburban Reno late on Monday. She was alive and well...The genesis of the fake story about Crites' grandmother, and the way in which it bubbled through from blogs to a Fox News report, seemingly without any attempt at corroboration, is unclear." --safari...

...Daniel Walmer of Lebanon Daily News: "A second issue has arisen for voters choosing Donald Trump for president. When they preview their ballot on the touchscreen machine at the polls, some are finding a vote for Trump is about to be reported as a vote for Hillary Clinton.... In each case, the problem was resolved and the voter was able to successfully change their ballot to the desired ticket, Anderson [the elections director] said. He was not aware of anyone actually casting an incorrect ballot." --safari note: Of course this would happen in Lebanon, a bunch of Muslim immigrants manipulating votes for open borders...

...Brad Reed of RawStory: "Donald Trump's presidential campaign sued the state of Nevada on Tuesday and alleged that hundreds of voters in Clark County were illegally allowed to vote after early voting hours had ended. Judge Gloria Sturman, who heard the campaign's case on Tuesday afternoon, sounded highly skeptical of the lawsuit -- and often seemed incredulous at the Trump camp's claims and requests.... [S]he was flabbergasted that the Trump campaign really wanted Clark County to figure out which ballots were cast by people who allegedly entered the voting line after 8 p.m. on Friday, and then refuse to count them until the campaign had resolved its dispute with the state." --safari

...Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "During a telephone interview on Fox News today, Donald Trump did not say whether he was expecting to argue with the outcome of the election. However, Trump did say he believed there were reports of voter fraud happening across the country, claiming that some people were trying to vote for Republicans only for their selection to change to Democrats. 'It's happening at various places today, it's been reported,' he said. 'The machines, you put down a Republican and it registers as a Democrat, and they've had a lot of complaints about that today.'" --safari

Paul Vigna of The Wall Street Journal: "Wall Street traders are moving markets Tuesday based on data from websites that purport to offer real-time estimates of the election results. It's a first for traders, and for the news media. On Tuesday...websites Vice and Slate are providing what they are characterizing as 'live' voting projections throughout the day.... A number of traders say that people were either following the Slate data, or hearing colleagues in the market talking about it." --safari

Jonathan Chait of New York: "Paul Ryan has spent the half-year since Donald Trump won the nomination carefully preserving the personal brand as a thoughtful, earnest, compassionate policy wonk he has buffed in the national media to an expert shine. Unfortunately for Ryan, he seems to have done the job a bit too well. The Republican base, which likes Trump and loathes traitors, has grown agitated with his too-good-for-Trump routine.... And now Ryan can't stop talking about how excited he is to support Donald Trump for president. Ryan has said that he personally voted for Trump, wrote an op-ed endorsing him, enthused to right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt about Trump's plan to call a special session of Congress to repeal Obamacare, and has been tweeting regularly about his support." --safari

Long Lines Hamper (some) Voters. Big Surprise. Richard Wolf and Kevin McCoy of USA Today. "Tens of millions of Americans descended on the polls today as election watchdogs reported hours-long lines, sporadic equipment failures and confusion about polling places...Problems cropped up Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and elsewhere -- key battleground states that could decide whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidency.... A coalition of more than 100 civil rights and voting rights groups reported that more than half of the complaints received in the morning about voter intimidation or harassment came from Pennsylvania. Those included voters being asked to provide specific forms of identification that are not required and Hispanic voters finding no Spanish speakers to assist them. 'There is tremendous disruption at the polls today,' said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.... The most widespread problem occurred in Durham, N.C., where electronic poll books used to check voter registration were down." ...

    ... Akhilleus. Really? You surprise me. Long lines? Voter intimidation? Machine failures? Any of that in Republican districts? It's a good thing racism is no longer a problem, per Little Johnny and the Dwarfs otherwise this could be the most chaotic election in the last 50 years.

If It's Not to Trump's Benefit, It Must Be Illegal. Ariane De Vogue and Tom LoBianco of CNN. "A Nevada court judge forcefully denied a request Tuesday from Donald Trump's campaign to direct a county registrar of voters to preserve and segregate ballots from voting machines in four early voting sites in the Las Vegas area where Latino voters showed up in record numbers. The Trump campaign said Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria kept polling locations open two hours beyond their designated closing times. Clark County saw its record for single-day early vote turnout shattered Friday when 57,174 people cast their ballots, according to data from the Nevada secretary of state's office, as Hillary Clinton and Democrats sought to build up a prohibitive advantage over Trump before Tuesday in the key state. Trump's lawyers asked for an order to have the pertinent early vote ballots -- those cast after the designated polling hours Friday -- not to be 'co-mingled or interspersed' with other ballots. Judge Gloria Sturman, of the District Court for Clark County Nevada, ruled from the bench, saying Gloria was already obligated by state law to maintain the records that the Trump campaign is seeking...

...Akhilleus. So there. This is only a tiny hint of what is to come. Look for Trump to contest every ballot in every county in every battleground state if he doesn't win. Look for his minions to scream "Stolen election" from the rooftops for weeks and months.

*****

Presidential Race

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "The final national polls give Mrs. Clinton a four-point lead, and her path to the presidency is straightforward: win the states carried by John Kerry in 2004, in addition to New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia.... She has led in nearly every live interview survey of those states so far this year, though the large number of white working-class voters in many of these states gives Mr. Trump a shot at an upset. Mrs. Clinton is also competitive in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Arizona. If she won all four, she would have a sizable victory in the Electoral College." -- CW ...

... Nate Silver: "Hillary Clinton has a 70 percent chance of winning the election, according to both the FiveThirtyEight polls-only and polls-plus models. That's up from a 65 percent chance on Sunday night, so Clinton has had a good run in the polls in the final days of the campaign. Clinton's projected margin of victory in the popular vote has increased to 3.5 percent from 2.9 percent." -- CW

Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: "The frenzied last leg of the 2016 presidential campaign culminated after midnight Monday in rival late-night rallies coursing with anger and emotion, as Donald Trump hammered Hillary Clinton as corrupt and Clinton cast the election as 'the test of our time.' Clinton closed her campaign with an energetic rally in Raleigh, accompanied by former president Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea. Singer Lady Gaga performed for an audience that nearly to a person raised hands when asked how many had voted early." -- CW


Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump hopscotched from Pennsylvania to North Carolina to Michigan on Monday in the final, frenzied hours of the presidential campaign, offering clashing closing arguments as the sprawling map of the United States was reduced to a string of must-win states.... Mrs. Clinton, whom polls show leading Mr. Trump, gave a sunny and optimistic summation of her candidacy for the White House as she embarked on a four-state tour on Monday. 'Tomorrow, you can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America,' she told a crowd in Pittsburgh. 'Our core values are being tested in this election.' Mr. Trump ... took a darker approach, assailing the 'crooked media,' attacking a 'corrupt Washington establishment' and mocking Mrs. Clinton over and over. 'It's a rigged, rigged system,' he declared in Raleigh, N.C. 'And now it's up to the American people to deliver the justice that we deserve at the ballot box tomorrow.'... Mrs. Clinton ... abandoned her usual assault on Mr. Trump's conduct and temperament. And Mr. Trump, who normally seeks to convey confidence at all times, sounded uncharacteristically vulnerable." -- CW ...

... Anne Gearan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton made their final pitches to an anxious nation Monday, with Clinton seeking to strike a conciliatory, positive tone -- and Trump, the underdog, warning of 'disaster' if he loses. On the last day of the presidential campaign, Clinton seemed to be a clear but not overwhelming favorite. She held a small lead in national polls and in key battleground states.... In Grand Rapids, Clinton talked about bringing the country together after the election was over.... 'If we don't win, I will consider this the single greatest waste of time, energy ... and money,' Trump said during a campaign stop in Raleigh. 'If we don't win, honestly, we've all wasted our time.'" CW: How we all wish the worst thing he'd done in this campaign was waste his time, energy & money.

Jonathan Alter of the Daily Beast: "... the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is stark: An ignorant demagogue so reckless that his staff had to confiscate his phone so he wouldn't tweet versus a seasoned and earnest if overly defensive believer in the ability of government to improve lives. An outrageous liar and confirmed deadbeat versus a public figure whose distortions and evasions are regrettable but well within the norm for politicians. An authoritarian who says 'I alone can fix it' versus a communitarian -- far more in the American grain -- whose message is 'Stronger Together'." -- CW

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama warned Monday that Donald J. Trump would accept the support of white supremacists if he won the White House, calling the Republican nominee 'temperamentally unfit' to lead the country as he sharpened his message to start a daylong, election-eve push for Hillary Clinton." -- CW ...

... Juliet Eilperin & Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post: "At a moment defined by anger at Washington, voter cynicism and two historically unpopular presidential candidates, [President] Obama's approval ratings are the highest they have been since his first days in office. It now stands at 56 percent, according to a Gallup tracking poll released Sunday. For the first time in decades -- dating back to Ronald Reagan -- a lame-duck incumbent is in high demand on the campaign trail. The good feelings, meanwhile, extend beyond the president himself. First lady Michelle Obama has been perhaps Clinton's most effective surrogate, campaigning alongside her in North Carolina last month. In crucial swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania, Vice President Biden's popularity surpasses even that of the president at his eight-year peak." -- CW

Thomas Heath of the Washington Post: "Global markets were up significantly and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index broke its longest slide in nearly 36 years on Monday as investors bet on a Hillary Clinton victory over Republican Donald Trump going into Tuesday's election. 'This is the Comey celebration,' said Washington investor Michael Farr, referring to FBI Director James B. Comey's letter to Congress on Sunday saying his agency's investigation of Clinton's emails was complete and there would be no prosecution. Market volatility has been high since the Oct. 28 announcement that the agency was looking into another batch of emails of possible relevance to the probe into Clinton's private server, which threw fresh uncertainty into the race for the presidency. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, had risen for nine consecutive days, signaling high investor anxiety." -- CW ...

... Evan Perez of CNN: "Hillary Clinton's campaign sent cease-and-desist letters to broadcasters advising that they shouldn't air ads from pro-Donald Trump PACs that include the claim that Clinton is "under investigation by the FBI.' The letters were dated Sunday, the same day the FBI announced that it was sticking by its conclusion that no charges were recommended against Clinton following completion of a review of recently discovered emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.... [The] letter says that 'at no point' did the FBI 'reopen' the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. 'Therefore the claim in these ads is provably false'..." -- CW ...

... David Fahrenthold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton's campaign chief expressed relief Monday that the FBI's email probe had been put to rest, but Donald Trump appeared ready to hammer the issue in his last-ditch bid for critical swing states as the campaign entered its final day." (Also linked yesterday.) -- CW ...

... Mark Sumner of Daily Kos: "FBI Director James Comey's last minute 'nothing to see here,' doesn't make up for the bomb he hurled into the election process ten days ago. All it does is confirm that Comey, far from being a scrupulous guardian of big-J Justice and an exemplar of non-partisan honesty, is an easily-influenced dishrag willing to cause irreparable damage to the nation without a scrap of valid evidence.... At this point it's impossible to believe that Comey acted either out of plain ignorance, or ignorance abetted only by poor judgement. The damage generated by Comey holds the critical factor that was not present in the case he was supposed to be investigating -- an intent to do harm." -- CW

... You can't review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can't do it, folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know it, and now it's up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8. -- Donald Trump, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Sunday ...

... Andy Greenberg of Wired: "Yes, Donald Trump, the FBI can vet 650,000 emails in eight days.... Trump supporter General Michael Flynn [CW: the ignorant loon Trump wants to name Defense Secretary] did the math on Twitter: 'IMPOSSIBLE There R 691,200 seconds in 8 days. DIR Comey has thoroughly reviewed 650,000 emails in 8 days? An email / second? IMPOSSIBLE....'... the FBI can review hundreds of thousands of emails in a week, using automated search and filtering tools rather than Flynn's absurd notion of Comey reading the documents manually. 'This is not rocket science,' says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics expert who's consulted for law enforcement and worked as a systems administrator. 'Eight days is more than enough time to pull this off in a responsible way.' One former FBI forensics expert even tells WIRED he's personally assessed far larger collections of data, far faster.... The real question, wrote cybersecurity consultant Rob Graham in his blog, isn't how the FBI managed to conclude its investigation in eight days. It's how it managed to take so long." ...

     ... CW: Impossible to know if Trump & Flynn are lying or if they're really that stupid, but what does it matter? Obviously, they're both incompetent nincompoops. They're either shining on the voters or they can't even imagine how data processing works. Scary to think Flynn was a military general who at least alleges he had no idea how that intel in his inbox was generated. ...

... Adam Goldman & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: Besides, there were nowhere near 650K relevant e-mails. "As it turned out, law enforcement officials said, there was no need to review all of the emails, only Ms. Abedin's. Those emails numbered in the thousands, and even many of those were duplicates of messages that had been looked at previously, officials said." -- CW

Greg Sargent: "As a general rule, political scientists tend to shy away from taking public stands for -- or against -- candidates that might make them appear partisan or somehow lacking in scientific objectivity. So it's notable that a large group of political scientists has now signed an open letter warning that their academic experience persuades them that Donald Trump poses a unique menace to American democracy." -- CW

** Dana Milbank: "Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump's campaign. It's the melody. For more than a year, I have condemned Trump in the harshest terms I could conjure as he went after Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, African Americans, women and the disabled. This is both because it was wrong in its own right and because, from my culture's history, I know that when a demagogue begins to identify scapegoats, the Jews are never far behind." CW: If you are not a white, Protestant man of Northern European stock, you have no place in Trump's America. ...

... Eric Hananoki of Media Matters: "... Donald Trump's closing campaign ad did not disappoint his anti-Semitic fans in the white nationalist movement.... Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the ad, stating that 'whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages....' Trump's supporters in the white nationalist movement agree that the ad is anti-Semitic -- and they're thrilled about it. The Daily Stormer is a virulently anti-Semitic website that worships Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump. Site founder Andrew Anglin wrote in a November 7 piece headlined 'Glorious Leader's Closing Argument Blasts the Jew' that the ad is 'absolutely fantastic' because Trump portrays Jews as 'what they are: a virus eating away at the flesh of this once-great nation.'... In a November 7 Daily Stormer piece headlined 'Radical Jew Attacks New Nazi Trump Ad,' 'Zeiger' attacked Josh Marshall for criticizing the ad and said it has imagery that 'could be right at home on a William Pierce video.' Pierce was 'America's most important neo-Nazi for some three decades until his death in 2002' and the 'leader of the National Alliance, a group whose members included terrorists, bank robbers and would-be bombers,' as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted.” -- CW ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "So why [did Trump go to] Minnesota [in the last days of his campaign]? Turns out the answer is to get in some digs at Somalis! The largest concentration of Somali immigrants to the United States lives in the Twin Cities, and it turns out that in recent years, officials estimate that around 30 young Somali men have gone off to join either ISIS or East Africa's Al Shabaab terror network. So that's basically the whole reason Trump went to Minnesota -- to work white people into a lather about black people. 'Everybody's reading about the disaster taking place in Minnesota,' he said. 'You don't even have the right to talk about it.'..." Tomaski details Trump's recent dissing of Nevada's Latino voters & his closing anti-Semitic ad. "[Trump] ended it exactly as he began it, because it's who he is. A more thoroughly repulsive man, we've not encountered in our politics, ever." -- CW

** Ezra Klein on why Donald Trump has come so close (or could win) the presidency. Political primaries have weakened the parties, "and particularly the Republican party," leaving them with no choice but to accept -- and boost -- the candidate its partisan base selects. ...

     ... CW: There are fixes for this, but they are not easy, particularly because the parties have turned over much of their control of the process to the media. The networks didn't just promote Donald Trump by broadcasting his rallies and letting him call in instead of coming into their studios. They also pretty much decided who got to participate in the primary debates. They could have just said no to Donald & Carly & Ben & Lincoln (Chafee, that is). Hell, they could have said no to Bernie.

Tom Sullivan of Hullabaloo: "In an op-ed in the New York Times by Nikolai Tolstoy, the chancellor of the International Monarchist League, has a recommendation for Americans who share Trump's authoritarian impulses. He argues for the advantages of monarchy: 'The French politician of the early 20th century Georges Clemenceau once remarked, "there are two things in the world for which I have never seen any use: the prostate gland and the president of the republic." As they contemplate the choice before them this week, many Americans may share something of that sentiment. There is an alternative.' Why this man isn't already on Donald Trump's campaign team is beyond me." -- CW

Election News

Slate is supposed to be reporting out Votecastr election projections in seven battleground states beginning at 8 am ET, but at 8:10 am, the page is blank. Not even a link. It's after 9am now, when the Vice site was supposed to go live, and nothing's happening there, either. One gets an "about:blank" URL at both the Slate & Vice linked pages. ...

... Nicholas Corasaniti of the New York Times: "For decades, news organizations have refrained from releasing early results in presidential battleground states on Election Day, adhering to a strict, time-honored embargo until a majority of polls there have closed. Now, a group of data scientists, journalists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is seeking to upend that reporting tradition, providing detailed projections of who is winning at any given time on Election Day in key swing states, and updating the information in real time from dawn to dusk." CW: Not as tradition-shattering if it doesn't work!

Fred Barbash of the Washington Post: "The first actual results of the 2016 presidential election are in: Voters in Dixville Notch, N.H., cast 4 votes for Democrat Hillary Clinton, 2 for Republican Donald Trump and one for the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson. Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, got a single write-in vote in the country's 'First in the Nation' balloting. Two other New Hampshire towns claiming 'First' status, Hart's Location and Millsfield, cast and counted their ballots after midnight Tuesday as well. The grand total for all three gave Trump a 32-to-25 edge over Clinton." -- CW

Jonathan Mahler & Michael Wines of the New York Times: "Millions of Americans will cast their ballots on Tuesday under intense scrutiny both from vigilantes who fear the election will be rigged and from thousands of voting rights advocates who fear the tally will be distorted by intimidation and, perhaps, the suppression of a minority vote that may be crucial to the outcome.... Adding to the anxiety is fear of Election Day hacking, perhaps by foreign interests. 'I would say this is the most frightening election period I can remember in my adult life,' said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert...." -- CW

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "This year, Hispanic voters, perhaps motivated by Donald J. Trump's policy proposals (including deportation) and harsh language aimed at undocumented Hispanic immigrants, really might decide this election. Early voting data unequivocally indicates that Hillary Clinton will benefit from a long awaited surge in Hispanic turnout, vastly exceeding the Hispanic turnout from four years ago.... The surge is real, and it's big. It could be enough to overcome Mr. Trump's strength among white-working class voters in the swing states of Florida and Nevada. If it does, it will almost certainly win her the election.... In total, as many Hispanic voters have already cast ballots in Florida's early voting period as cast ballots in all of 2012.... According to Daniel Smith of the University of Florida, fully 36 percent of the Hispanics who have voted so far did not vote in 2012." ...

... Joshua Green of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump's campaign has always understood that Florida is key to his electoral chances.... Miami-Dade County is the most important county in the country for Trump's chances, according to a [Trump] campaign official familiar with the [campaign's voter turnout] simulations.... The demographic mix of early voters [in Miami-Dade] also looks highly favorable to Clinton: 58 percent Hispanic, 17 percent African-American and 20 percent white. But the late registrants ... give the clearest indication that sentiment in Miami-Dade is running strongly against Trump. Of the 29,657 voters who registered last month, 41 percent are Democrats, 44 percent are unaffiliated, and only 12.5 percent are Republicans." -- CW ...

... Marc Caputo of Politico: "In a final surge, Florida Democrats stormed early voting polling stations in the Sunday before Election Day and widened their lead over Republicans to 88,000 ballots cast thanks to the strong support of African-Americans and Latinos in the nation's biggest battleground state. The Democrats nearly tripled their Saturday lead thanks to historic voting numbers in just two counties: Miami-Dade and Broward. About 100,000 voters showed up to those two counties Sunday, casting almost 39 percent of the ballots in the 16 counties that held a final day of in-person early voting before Election Day. If Hillary Clinton wins Florida -- and therefore the presidential race -- it will be on the strength of these two urban counties.... In this Hispanic- and black-heavy media market, Democrats have rolled up a nearly 318,000-vote margin over Republicans in total in-person early votes and mail-in absentee ballots." -- CW ...

... Tara Golshan of Vox: "At least 42 million citizens have voted early, with more than 18 million ballots cast in battleground states. This is a bit of a drop-off from 2012, when 46 million people voted early.... More women have voted than men, Latino voter turnout is so far at an all-time high, and black voter turnout is still below the last presidential election, when Barack Obama was on the ballot.... It's a tighter race than Clinton would have hoped for, but there are some positive signs for the Democratic nominee going into Election Day." -- CW ...

... N.C. GOP Publicly Congratulates Itself for Suppressing Black Vote. Josh Israel of Think Progress: "After Republican leaders mounted a concerted and illegal effort to make it harder for African Americans to vote in North Carolina, the party apparatus celebrated on Monday that fewer African Americans have voted in North Carolina this year.... The North Carolina GOP sent out a press release titled 'North Carolina Obama Coalition Crumbling,' citing the decline in African American early voting and the increase in 'Caucasian' early voting.... In July, a federal appeals court struck down an 'omnibus' election law, passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R), writing that it was 'hard not to come away with the conclusion that North Carolina's lawmakers wanted to get caught engaging in unlawfully racial discrimination.'... After that failed, North Carolina Republicans used their two-to-one edge on electoral boards to slash early voting options and force long lines at the few early voting locations in urban centers...." -- CW ...

... OR, as Joan McCarter of Daily Kos more delicately puts it, "North Carolina Republicans really proud of being fucking racists." ...

... Max Rosenthal of Mother Jones: "While [North Carolina] had more early voting locations and hours overall, 17 Republican-controlled county election boards slashed the number of early voting sites they set up, which decimated turnout in their areas. According to an October 26 blog post from insightus, a North Carolina public policy nonprofit group, 'the average turnout across these 17 super-suppressor counties is just 69% of 2012's performance. Meanwhile, voting action across the state's 83 other counties averaged 124% of 2012.' Michael McDonald..., who runs the early-vote-tracking US Elections Project, noted that North Carolina's restrictions made it the only Southern state to track voters by race where black early voting actually declined." CW: If the Supreme Court confederates had not gutted the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ would not have allowed these ole white supremacist boys to get away with these stunts. So, once again -- Thanks, Supremes! ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "Millions of Americans eager to cast a ballot before the Election Day rush have stood in gallingly long lines during early voting.... Contrary to the suggestion of some election boards, these endless lines were not a fluke or a surprise. They were a direct result of the Republican Party's recent, coordinated assault on voting rights.... These endless lines are a symptom of voter suppression, and those who suffered through them are victims of the Republican war on voting rights. Our current crisis was carefully planned and plotted by GOP activists, officials, and politicians across the country, and set in motion the day the Supreme Court declawed the Voting Rights Act. It is now clear that one major political party has dedicated itself to suppressing as many minority votes as possible. What we are witnessing this election season is the fruits of that labor -- the incontrovertible evidence that the right to vote is more imperiled in America today that it has been in half a century." ...

... CW: Just about every time I see a picture of CJ John Roberts' smug puss, I superimpose upon it the bone-tired face of a poor black mother or father, maybe someone who works two jobs, who John Roberts decided should stand & suffer silently for hours to exercise her or his fundamental right to vote against the anti-American power structure Roberts represents. Other times I see the confused face of a black American citizen of a certain age just as she is told she is not allowed to vote at all.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday refused to intercede in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Democratic Party against Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign. The justices turned away a last-minute bid from the party to reinstate a sweeping order from a trial judge that had barred the Trump campaign from harassing or intimidating voters in Ohio. The Supreme Court's brief order gave no reasons for staying out of the case and did not note any dissents. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been critical of Mr. Trump, added a brief statement explaining her vote in the case, Ohio Democratic Party v. Donald J. Trump for President. She said that an Ohio law already forbids the harassment of voters, suggesting that a court order to enforce that law was not needed. Mr. Trump has urged his supporters to act as poll observers, suggesting that voters in unspecified 'certain areas' were likely to engage in fraud." -- CW

William Wan & Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "State leaders, voting experts and advocates say they are preparing for an unusual level of confusion and chaos Tuesday as voters cast their ballots in a historically bitter presidential race. Early voters in some states have faced hours-long lines the past several days. Democrats have filed a flurry of last-minute lawsuits alleging voter intimidation by Donald Trump supporters. And there have been some heated polling site confrontations between Trump voters and Hillary Clinton backers. Election monitors are especially worried this year about the specter of voter intimidation after calls by the Republican candidate for his supporters to stake out polling places and watch for fraud." -- CW

Washington Post: "The Post will ... offer unlimited, free access to its content starting at 12:01 a.m. ET November 8 until the morning after the election." -- CW

Other News & Views

Rees Shapiro of the Washington Post: "A federal jury has awarded $3 million in damages to a former University of Virginia associate dean after finding that a Rolling Stone magazine article sullied her reputation by alleging that she was indifferent to allegations of a gang rape on campus." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of a man charged with killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church last year, but a federal judge abruptly postponed it without offering much of an explanation. At the same time, officials in Charleston said they were investigating reports of threatening letters recently sent to locations in the city, one of which referred to the alleged gunman. At least two others went to the church where the massacre occurred. Officials did not say whether there was any connection between the letters and the trial." -- CW

Sunday
Nov062016

The Commentariat -- November 7, 2016

Afternoonish Update:

David Fahrenthold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton's campaign chief expressed relief Monday that the FBI's email probe had been put to rest, but Donald Trump appeared ready to hammer the issue in his last-ditch bid for critical swing states as the campaign entered its final day." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Shane Goldmacher of Politico: "Pressing to lock in her electoral advantage in the final hours of the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton will summon the collective firepower of the last two Democratic presidents on Monday while Donald Trump scrambles furiously across state lines in a last-ditch bid to scale the blue wall of support she has built." -- CW

Forget Silver. Watch the Peso. Daniel Politi of Slate: "Slate's Joshua Keating told us a few days ago that we should stop obsessing over FiveThirtyEight and start looking at the value of the Mexican peso to see whether Donald Trump is going to win. Well, if we use the Mexican currency as a barometer, things are looking mighty good for Hillary Clinton right about now. The peso surged the most in almost a month almost immediately after the FBI confirmed that it didn't think Clinton's use of a private e-mail server was a crime. In early Monday morning trading in Tokyo, the peso jumped 2.2 percent to 18.6009 per dollar, according to Bloomberg. That was quite a turnaround considering the peso had plunged 1.8 percent between Oct. 26 and Nov. 4." -- CW

Jose DelReal, et al., of the Washington Post discuss which 15 states will determine the winner of the Electoral College vote. -- CW

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "In a first, rather than wait for election results to be tallied at county courthouses and to be announced by The Associated Press or the TV networks, a company called VoteCastr will project the results in real time. The results will be published on Slate and Vice." Cohn explains why you shouldn't count on VoteCastr's "results." CW: Here at Reality Chex, I'll be counting Electoral College votes the old-fashioned way (tho I'm not sure what to do about Washington State, where one Democratic Elector has promised to, & another may, go rogue).

Steven Shepard of Politico: "Early-vote statistics from battleground states with large Hispanic populations show record turnout among a bloc that has voted at a lower rate than whites or blacks in past elections.... In Florida, which tracks turnout by race and ethnicity, Hispanics have so far cast about 14 percent of the 5.7 million early and absentee ballots cast.... That follows Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale's analysis, which notes that, through Wednesday alone, Hispanic turnout in 2016 had already exceeded -- by 170,000 ballots -- Hispanic early voting in the entire 2012 cycle.... Similar signs suggest Democrats are seeing robust Hispanic turnout in Arizona as well. And even Texas, considered out of reach for Democrats, is seeing a surge across the state's most populous counties." --safari (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Tommy Craggs of Slate: "This election was about the issues.... I'm talking about issues that involve the fundamental arrangements of American life, issues of race and class and gender and sexual violence. These are the things we've argued about in the past year and change, sometimes coarsely, sometimes tediously, but very often illuminatingly. This has been, by all but the most fatuous measures, an issue-rich campaign.... The one favor Trump did us was to be monstrous about the things in America that matter the most, to force a confrontation with all the stuff our politics typically is at pains to suppress. This campaign was about power, and it was about impunity. It was about 'Grab them by the pussy,' and it was about the sentence Donald Trump spoke just before that, the issue at the heart of the election: 'You can do anything.'" -- CW

The New York Times is running a "live briefing" of today's presidential race. Here's a sample: "Speaking in Minnesota just moments after the news [of Jim Comey's "Never Mind" letter] broke, Mr. Trump delivered a speech asserting that Mrs. Clinton will probably see a criminal trial soon. Sticking with facts has never been a deep preoccupation for Mr. Trump when trying to make a point. And a number of his supporters are just as likely to believe that the F.B.I. caved under pressure, as Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, suggested on Twitter. But the closing hours of the campaign are likely to widen the gap between facts and reality."

Annie Karni of Politico: "... when FBI Director James Comey on Sunday handed [the Clinton campaign] a giant reprieve ... there was no crowing. Instead, the Clinton campaign greeted the news break, at least outwardly, with little more than a 'told ya so' shrug.... Clinton did not mention Comey or her emails at a 'get out the vote' rally in Cleveland with local legend LeBron James." -- CW ...

... Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: "... Comey is now asking the voters to disregard the fog of suspicion he created around Clinton. It's too late. Millions of voters cast ballots over the last week. Many others have no doubt spent the time conceptualizing the race as one between a crook and a crazy man. It turns out that the race is in fact between a relatively conventional politician who has been for decades accused of grand crimes, and a dangerous man who has substantiated many of the alarming claims made about him." -- CW ...

... ** Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. informed Congress on Sunday that it has not changed its conclusions about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, removing a dark cloud that has been hanging over her campaign two days before Election Day. James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, said in a letter to members of Congress that 'based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.'.... In the immediate term, the letter removes a cloud that has hung over the Clinton campaign since Mr. Comey announced his agents were reviewing new emails that might be related to an investigation into Mrs. Clinton that ended in July. But Mr. Comey's move is sure to raise new questions from Democrats. Most important: Why did Mr. Comey raise the specter of wrongdoing before agents had even read the emails, especially since it took only days to determine they were not significant" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The story has been updated. "According to the law enforcement official, many of the emails were personal messages or duplicates of ones that the bureau had previously examined during the original inquiry.... At the end of a rocky week for Mrs. Clinton that included wild false speculation about looming indictments and shocking discoveries in the emails, Mr. Comey's letter swept away her largest and most immediate problem. Republicans immediately accused Mr. Comey of making his announcement prematurely." CW: Right. Because waiting till after the election to clear Clinton would have been so much fairer to voters.

     ... Comey's letter is here. ...

... Tom Hamburger & Rosalind Heldermann of the Washington Post: "Comey wrote that investigators had worked 'around the clock' to review all the emails found on a device used by former congressman Anthony Weiner that had been sent to or from Clinton and that 'we have not changed our conclusions expressed in July.'... The three-paragraph letter was sent to the chairman of the Homeland Security, Judiciary, Appropriations and Oversight and Government Reform and was copied to the ranking members of those committees. Comey said the FBI had performed an 'extraordinary amount of high quality work' to conduct the review." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)...

... CW: Meanwhile, as Comey forced his staff to do an "extraordinary amount of high quality work," millions of Americans were voting their choice for president & on down the ballot under the mistaken impression that the Democratic nominee for president was sexting Anthony Weiner. But no harm done, Jim! ...

... AND Patrick obtained exclusive video of Jim Comey's presser announcing the FBI's decision. CW: Oddly, Patrick's video misses the part where Comey profusely apologizes to Clinton and the American people:

     ... I'll link to a copy of the transcript as soon as one becomes available. ...

... George Zornick of the Nation: "James Comey just gave one of the most consequential 'oh, neverminds' in American history.... In the nine days between Comey' first announcement and Sunday's 'nevermind,' Donald Trump blanketed the airwaves with ads ... claiming Clinton was 'under FBI investigation again' for e-mails found 'on pervert Anthony' Weiner's computer.'... Overall the scandal had a demonstrable effect on Democratic enthusiasm.... This is why there is normally huge deference from law enforcement about public information that could affect elections.... If a Republican Senate keeps the Supreme Court to eight justices (or less) for the next four years, we may think of this extraordinary intervention by Comey." -- CW ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "An agency that, at least in its recent history, has been considered the symbol of square-jawed rectitude has now taken a place in the larger, corrosive narrative of the 2016 election.... The whole saga also will probably reinforce the disillusioned American public's perception that the political system is corrupt, and that the institutions of government are failing. It is likely, as well, to further undermine the legitimacy of whoever wins the election in this deeply polarized country.... 'Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this and announce something he can't possibly know,' tweeted former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a prominent ally of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. At a rally in Minnesota, Trump said: 'You have to understand it's a rigged system, and she's protected.'" ...

     ... CW: That's funny, because just last week Sunday morning Trump was praising the FBI to the heavens: "'There's little doubt that FBI Director Comey and the great special agents within the FBI will be able to collect more than enough evidence to garner indictments against Hillary Clinton and her inner circle despite her effort to disparage and discredit the FBI,' Trump said [at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa], prompting 'Lock her up' chants in the crowd." ...

... Whether [tis Nobler in the Mind to Suffer the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Politicians.... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "Ultimately, it seems that Comey is less a villain in this case than a tragic Shakespearian anti-hero, more Hamlet than Iago. Comey's actions are consistent with those of a man who tried to take the political middle ground..., but in so doing politicized the FBI far more than had he simply followed the appropriate guidelines.... Given his past missteps [Sunday's announcement] was the right thing to do, but it only demonstrates further his feckless misunderstanding of how to run a professional, non-partisan agency. Future agency heads should learn from Comey's mistakes by simply following protocol. If that means that conservative crusaders insult you and [c]all your credibility into question, that's their problem. All you do by trying to appease them is damage one's own credibility, and that of the institution you serve." -- CW

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama wanted to personally set the record straight on Sunday after Donald Trump falsely accused the president of yelling at a protester days earlier. 'The point is, he thought it was OK to just lie,' Obama said at a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in Kissimmee, Florida. 'Wasn't even trying to be sneaky about it. That says something about how unacceptable behavior has become normal.' Obama recalled his event two days earlier in North Carolina, when he urged a crowd to go easy on a protester, apparently an elderly veteran, saying the man had earned their respect and had a right to free speech. Later that night, however, Trump told his own crowd that Obama 'spent so much time screaming at a protester.' Media organizations quickly called Trump out for, as one CNN headline put it, the 'wild misrepresentation,' and PolitiFact gave Trump a 'pants on fire.' But Obama clearly wanted to set the record straight himself, saying Trump 'just made it up.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

(... For Charles Pierce, Trump's claim that Obama was "screaming at a protester" was the last straw. -- CW)

Now, if somebody can't handle a Twitter account, they can't handle the nuclear codes. -- President Obama, at a campaign rally in Kissimmee, Fla., Sunday ...


... The Narcissist in November. Maggie Haberman
, et al., of the New York Times: "Aboard his gold-plated jumbo jet..., [Donald Trump] does not like to ... be alone..., insisting that aides stay up and keep talking to him. He prefers the soothing, whispery voice of his son-in-law. He requires constant assurance that his candidacy is on track.... In the final days of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump's candidacy is a jarring split screen: the choreographed show of calm and confidence orchestrated by his staff, and the neediness and vulnerability of a once-boastful candidate now uncertain of victory.... Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to ... savage his rivals. But offline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all of the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund a 'super PAC' with vengeance as its core mission.... Mr. Trump's campaign is no longer making headlines with embarrassing staff shake-ups. But that has left him with a band of squabbling and unfireable advisers, with confusing roles and an inability to sign off on basic tasks. A plan to encourage early voting in Florida went unapproved for weeks. The result is chaotic." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "What [the NYT report] truly demonstrates is just how much effort it takes to get Trump to act anything like a normal presidential candidate, and how damaging he's likely to be when he's no longer under those restraints." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Presidential Cabinet as Rogue's Gallery. Katy Tur & Benji Sarlin of NBC News: "Donald Trump's cabinet-in-waiting is taking shape in the final days of the race, as aides eye a number of Trump loyalists for major posts should he win on Tuesday. Among the names being considered, according to conversations with three campaign advisers who requested anonymity to speak freely: Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, Newt Gingrich for secretary of state, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn for defense secretary or national security adviser, Trump finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, and Republican National Committee finance chair Lew Eisenberg for commerce secretary.... Reince Priebus, the current RNC chairman, is under consideration as Trump's chief of staff." CW: My guess the other day that Trump would pick the execrable Rudy for AG (following the demise of Gov. Chrisco) was an educated one, not evidence that I am a Trump mole hiding inside a fake anti-Trump disguise.

Ben Terris of the Washington Post on Trump's gaslighting the nation. Terris knows the feeling; it happened to him. -- CW

Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "In the last week..., Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to zero out all federal spending on clean energy research and development. And the plan he released would also zero out all other spending on anything to do with climate change, including the government's entire climate science effort. You may have missed this bombshell because team Trump did not spell out these cuts overtly. In a campaign where the media has 'utterly failed to convey the policy stakes in the election,' as Vox's Matt Yglesias explained recently, it appears only Bloomberg BNA bothered to follow up with the campaign to get at the truth of Trump's radical proposal." Upon further questioning, the Trump campaign is just making shit up. Surprise! --safari (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Spencer Woodman of The Intercept: "As hurricane Mathew closed in on the Florida coast in early October, Democrats called on Republican Governor Rick Scott to extend the state's voter registration deadline to allow those affected by the storm to access the ballot box. But Scott and his supporters resisted...[A] federal judge overruled Scott, ordering the state to extend its deadline by an entire week, to October 18. The resulting extra seven days saw a flood of more than 100,000 additional voter registrations in Florida -- new voters who otherwise would have been shut out of this year's election. And this doesn't appear to have caused widespread hardship to the state's election officials." --safari

Ryan Koronoski of ThinkProgress: "Voters in heavily-Democratic Philadelphia will be able to enjoy a somewhat normal commute on Election Day after a week of snarled traffic and uncertainty. Last Tuesday, Transport Workers Union Local 234...went on strike. The city's transportation system has been paralyzed, snarled by traffic and long commutes, which has worried people operating several get-out-the-vote operations in the city and surrounding suburbs. But in the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, the union's leaders and the management of SEPTA reached a tentative five-year agreement, ending the strike one day before Election Day." --safari

Robert Mackey of The Intercept: "Introducing Donald Trump at a rally in Reno on Saturday, the chairman of the Nevada Republican party complained to a largely white crowd that voters in another part of the state, with a large Latino population, were allowed to vote late the night before...What [Michael] McDonald [the GOP chairman] failed to explain is that some polling places were open later than 7 p.m., and polls routinely stay open late to allow anyone waiting in line when they close to cast their ballots. Despite these facts, and the chilling sound of a politician casting doubt on the rights of members of an ethnic minority to exercise their right to vote, Trump then claimed that the votes cast in a Clark County polling place in a Mexican supermarket -- most likely against him -- were evidence of fraud. 'It's being reported that certain key Democratic polling locations in Clark County were kept open for hours and hours beyond closing time to bus and bring Democratic voters in,' Trump said. 'Folks, it's a rigged system.'" --safari (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Jeremy Diamond of CNN: "The chairman of the Nevada Republican Party argued Saturday during a rally [in Reno] for Donald Trump that polling locations stayed open late to accommodate long lines of voters 'so a certain group could vote.'... The chairman, Michael McDonald, was referring to a polling location in Clark County, which is 30% Hispanic and the county in which Las Vegas is located. The polling location stayed open to allow voters who were already in line -- many of whom waited more than two hours, according to local reports -- to cast their ballots." CW: Yeah, Mike, we like to call that "certain group," "registered voters," and we're wondering why the county hasn't provided enough polling places so they could do so timely. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jon Ralston of Politico: "The next day [after a record-breaking turnout of Nevada's Latino voters], Trump arrived in Reno looking like a dead man walking, railing at the scene in Vegas the night before and blaming 'crazy, broken Harry Reid and his corrupt political machine.'...They raged, raged against the dying of their chances. Yet about one thing Trump was right: Harry Reid built this. After two years of boosting voter registration among key Democratic demographics, the retiring Senate minority leader has brought turnout among Hispanics in the state to record levels. In doing so, he's almost surely delivered the state for Hillary Clinton...Now, in virtually ensuring that Clinton has enough votes banked in early voting to take Nevada, Reid can ride off into the sunset knowing he has created perhaps the most fearsome political machine in history." --safari note: The article includes a fair amount of hyperbole, IMO, but it also explains Reid's strategy in building and strengthening the GOTV coalition, one that should be copied by Democrats nationwide ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Within minutes [of a scuffle at Trump's Reno rally]..., Donald Trump Jr., and top social media aide Dan Scavinopassed along later-disproven claims that the GOP nominee had just survived an 'assassination attempt.' And on stage at Trump's next rally in Denver, Father Andre ​Mahanna said Trump had survived 'an attempt of murder.' Even as late as Sunday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was playing up the idea that this was a "Democratic plant" trying to disrupt Trump's rally.... Trump Jr. also passed along a claim that the person who caused the disturbance had a gun.... And he retweeted a suggestion, shortly after the incident, that Democrats were to blame for violence at Trump rallies.... None of these things appear to be true, based upon the evidence at hand." More on this ridiculous story below. The only person who was under threat was the protester, a Republican. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: "Donald Trump is planning to spend the penultimate night of his campaign rallying with Ted Nugent, a musician and NRA board member who has a long record of violent rhetoric, misogyny and anti-Semitism. Nugent will reportedly join Trump at a Michigan rally [Sunday] tonight. It is a fitting way for Trump to close out a campaign that has been driven by racial resentment and elevated some of the most extreme voices of the Right." -- CW ...

     ... AND of Course All Went Well. Justin Baragona of Mediaite: "... Ted Nugent wanted to let the crowd know what he thought about the state being labeled Democratic. 'I got your blue state right here,' the Nuge shouted while grabbing his crotch." Ken Mayer of Mediaite: "Trump took the stage later on, and he reiterated his recent talking point that Jay Z and Beyonce use much worse language than he's ever used." -- CW ...

... Robert Mackey: "Donald Trump's advertising campaign is ending as it started, with footage of migrants in Europe, lifted from the internet and passed off as video of immigrants streaming across the border from Mexico into the United States. Near the start of the new ad, as the candidate complains of 'massive illegal immigration,' thousands of people are shown walking along a highway.... That video, however, was not shot along the southern border of the U.S. -- where Trump has promised to build a great wall -- but in Hungary, at the height of the migrant crisis last year.... If the footage was used in error, it would be an odd slip, since the Trump campaign was ridiculed for doing the exact same thing in their first ad, at the start of the year...It seems possible, however, that the ad is intentionally misleading, and hopes to conflate the situation in the U.S. with the huge number of migrants seeking refuge in Europe from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan." --safari (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Brennan Suen of Media Matters: "The New York Post published a front page report alleging that ... Hillary Clinton 'routinely asked her maid to print out sensitive government e-mails and documents -- including ones containing classified information,' but ignored the fact the emails in question were classified years after the fact. The report cited only two classified emails, both of which were retroactively classified at the lowest level of classification.... Additionally, in both confidential emails Clinton did not request that her maid print the emails. [CW: It was Clinton staffers who suggested the housekeeper print them out.] The author of the report [-- Paul Sperry --] has a history of inaccurate reporting when it comes to Clinton's emails." ...

     ... BUT in Right Wing World, any made-up story knocking Clinton is a good story. SO, "Appearing on Fox News Sunday..., Mike Pence ... said, 'We just found out this morning that she had her maid print off classified information.'... Kellyanne Conway ... [said on CNN,] 'We have a report this morning that [Clinton] has her maid ... printing out classified information,' and us[ed] the report to call Clinton 'selfish' and 'peevish.'" And "Fox & Friends" dedicated a whole segment to the Post report.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Steve M.: Watch Maureen Dowd "prepare the ground" for Trump's post-election rehabilitation. From her Sunday column: "Before he jumped into the presidential race, Trump ... was not regarded as a bigot or demagogue.... But he created another character for the Republican primaries...." Steve: "Whether or not he was seen as a bigot before the campaign, we know he actually was one. He was sued by the federal government for not renting to black people in the 1970s. One of his casinos was fined for removing black employees from the floor at the request of a particular high roller. An ex-employee has quoted him as saying, 'Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.' As the Central Park Five case convulsed New York City, he bought a full-page newspaper ad that demanded the reinstatement of the death penalty. And, of course, with regard to President Obama, he was America's most famous birther.... And he's always believed in government by strongmen...." -- CW

Pope Makes Last-Minute Anti-Trump Appeal. Daniel Politi: "In what sounded like a thinly veiled dig at Donald Trump, Pope Francis condemned the use of fear for political ends and said people shouldn't be dedicating their energies to building walls. The pontiff didn't, of course, mention Trump by name but there seems to be little doubt about who he was referring to during a speech at the Vatican this weekend." -- CW

Senate Races

Remember the Supremes! New York Times Editors: "Sixteen years [after Al Gore accepted the Supreme Courts' 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore], the Supreme Court sits crippled, unable to resolve the most pressing legal questions facing the country. Two events -- the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February and the unprecedented refusal of Senate Republicans to even consider President Obama's pick to fill the vacant seat -- have converged to throw the court's future as a functioning institution into doubt. This scenario would have seemed unimaginable a year ago. But Tuesday's vote -- for president and for control of the Senate -- will determine whether the court remains short-handed for months or, as Republicans are now threatening if they hold the Senate, for years." ...

     ... CW: This is why we must vote for Democratric Senate candidates who are real jerks. I did it myself once, when the situation was less dire than it is today, even tho I knew the Republican candidate was a far, far better person. (The jerk I voted for won, but he ended his Senate career in disgrace.)

Burgess Everett & Rachel Bade of Politico: "As the final, frantic hours of the campaign for control of Congress come to a close, Democrats look like slightly-better-than-even favorites to reclaim the Senate, while Republicans appear certain to hold the House after a Donald Trump-induced October scare. If Democrats manage to flip the Senate, senior party aides and strategists involved in battleground races said they're looking at a majority of 52 seats, best case. That would be a letdown from their earlier hopes of a 54- or 55-seat advantage and put Republicans in the pole position to win back the chamber in 2018."-- CW

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Which party will control the Senate is anybody's guess. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Washington Post names the 12 Senate races that will determine which party controls the Senate. -- CW

Election News & Views

NEW. Paul Krugman: "... this was, in fact, a rigged election. The election was rigged by state governments that did all they could to prevent nonwhite Americans from voting.... The election was rigged by Russian intelligence.... The election was rigged by James Comey.... The election was also rigged by people within the F.B.I. -- people who clearly felt that under Mr. Comey they had a free hand to indulge their political preferences.... The election was rigged by partisan media, especially Fox News, which trumpeted falsehoods, then retracted them, if at all, so quietly that almost nobody heard.... The election was rigged by mainstream news organizations, many of which simply refused to report on policy issues, a refusal that clearly favored the candidate who lies about these issues all the time, and has no coherent proposals to offer.... The election was rigged by the media obsession with Hillary Clinton's emails....

So in the days ahead it will be important to remember two things. First, Mrs. Clinton has actually run a remarkable campaign, demonstrating her tenacity in the face of unfair treatment and remaining cool under pressure that would have broken most of us. Second, and much more important, if she wins it will be thanks to Americans who stood up for our nation's principles -- who waited for hours on voting lines contrived to discourage them, who paid attention to the true stakes in this election rather than letting themselves be distracted by fake scandals and media noise. Those citizens deserve to be honored, not disparaged, for doing their best to save the nation from the effects of badly broken institutions. Many people have behaved shamefully this year -- but tens of millions of voters kept their faith in the values that truly make America great.

... CW: So (Krugman and) I say to most Reality Chex readers: Consider yourself a hero. You've more than earned the name.

Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been charged with criminal contempt in a racial discrimination case, is preparing to deploy his deputies at polling stations on election day in a move that voting rights activists warn amounts to intimidation..., given the sheriff's track record of ethnic profiling, harassment and organized raids directed against undocumented Hispanic people. Arpaio is locked in a tense re-election fight on 8 November, as a growing number of Latino citizens and allied progressives seek to oust him as sheriff after 23 years in the post." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Chas Danner of New York: "Following the news that one Bernie-Sanders-supporting electoral college voter in Washington State was vowing he would not cast his vote for Hillary Clinton if and when she wins the state's popular vote, another electoral college voter in the state has told the Seattle Times that he isn't sure he'll support her either...Clinton is widely expected to win Washington State on Election Day and thus be pledged its 12 electoral votes toward the 270 she needs to defeat Donald Trump and win the presidency. There is no constitutional requirement for Electoral College voters to support the winner of the popular vote in their state, but some states penalize such 'faithless electors.'..." --safari (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Other News & Views

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "Janet Reno, who rose from a rustic life on the edge of the Everglades to become attorney general of the United States -- the first woman to hold the job -- and whose eight years in that office placed her in the middle of some of the most divisive episodes of the Clinton presidency, died on Monday at age 78." -- CW

Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "Just ahead of the U.S. presidential elections, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be pushing his conflict with the West to new heights. He has declared an end to a plutonium-disposal agreement with the United States. Two weeks ago, he stationed new cruise missiles in Kaliningrad, further bolstering a territory that already was bristling with weaponry. And Aleppo is bracing for a renewed Russian bombardment that may begin soon. Many Western policymakers say he may be taking advantage of end-of-term distractions in the White House to exert as commanding a position as possible before a new president takes office Jan. 20." And Russian fighter pilots are repeatedly buzzing NATO airspace. ...

     ... CW: Another thing about Putin that is like Trump: he does stupid stuff for no reason. His entire anti-European/anti-American agenda is without merit. What is there to gain? Nothing. And there is a great deal for Russians to lose. Gorbachev gave Russia a chance to be a great country instead of a harsh, totalitarian superpower; subsequent leaders have blown it. Big time. That is what Trump's erratic, anti-American antics would do to the U.S.

George Packer of the New Yorker has a long read on how the Democratic Party has lost the white working-class voters, and if/how Hillary Clinton can win them back. --safari

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The housing collapse of 2008 nearly broke the city of Miami. Now, its leaders have embarked on a novel and aggressive legal strategy to recoup losses from the big banks they say created the crisis.... It is a high-stakes effort that is being encouraged by many cities, and the banks Tuesday will ask the Supreme Court to stop it before it takes root. Miami sued Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which bars discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing.... The city says that it can prove the lending institutions discriminated against Hispanic and African American residents by directing them into high-interest, risky loans. The resulting defaults destabilized Miami's poorest neighborhoods, and the resulting loss of tax revenue sent the city to the brink of bankruptcy, they say." -- CW

P.S. Free access to the New York Times today thru Wednesday.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "The investigation into emissions fraud at Volkswagen reached the very top of the company on Sunday after the carmaker said that the chairman of the supervisory board, Hans Dieter Pötsch, is suspected by German prosecutors of violating securities laws. Mr. Pötsch, the former chief financial officer at Volkswagen, is accused of failing to notify shareholders quickly enough of the financial risks of the diesel emissions cheating scandal, which has already led to a $15 billion settlement in the United States and caused the stock price to plunge. The disclosure that Mr. Pötsch is the subject of an investigation is likely to intensify criticism that Volkswagen remains in the hands of many of the longtime insiders who were in charge while the company was producing millions of cars that were deliberately designed to cheat on air-quality tests." -- CW

Saturday
Nov052016

The Commentariat -- November 6, 2016

Afternoon Update:

** Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. informed Congress on Sunday that it has not changed its conclusions about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, removing a dark cloud that has been hanging over her campaign two days before Election Day. James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, said in a letter to members of Congress that 'based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.'.... In the immediate term, the letter removes a cloud that has hung over the Clinton campaign since Mr. Comey announced his agents were reviewing new emails that might be related to an investigation into Mrs. Clinton that ended in July. But Mr. Comey's move is sure to raise new questions from Democrats. Most important: Why did Mr. Comey raise the specter of wrongdoing before agents had even read the emails, especially since it took only days to determine they were not significant?" -- CW ...

... Tom Hamburger & Rosalind Heldermann of the Washington Post: "Comey wrote that investigators had worked 'around the clock' to review all the emails found on a device used by former congressman Anthony Weiner that had been sent to or from Clinton and that 'we have not changed our conclusions expressed in July.'... The three-paragraph letter was sent to the chairman of the Homeland Security, Judiciary, Appropriations and Oversight and Government Reform and was copied to the ranking members of those committees. Comey said the FBI had performed an 'extraordinary amount of high quality work' to conduct the review." -- CW ...

... CW: Meanwhile, as Comey forced his staff to do an "extraordinary amount of high quality work," millions of Americans were voting their choice for president & on down the ballot under the mistaken impression that the Democratic nominee for president was sexting Anthony Weiner. But no harm done, Jim! ...

... AND Patrick obtained exclusive video of Jim Comey's presser announcing the FBI's decision:

     ... I'll link to a copy of the transcript as soon as one becomes available.

Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been charged with criminal contempt in a racial discrimination case, is preparing to deploy his deputies at polling stations on election day in a move that voting rights activists warn amounts to intimidation..., given the sheriff's track record of ethnic profiling, harassment and organized raids directed against undocumented Hispanic people. Arpaio is locked in a tense re-election fight on 8 November, as a growing number of Latino citizens and allied progressives seek to oust him as sheriff after 23 years in the post." -- CW

New York Times reporters are updating campaign events today. -- CW

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama wanted to personally set the record straight on Sunday after Donald Trump falsely accused the president of yelling at a protester days earlier. 'The point is, he thought it was OK to just lie,' Obama said at a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in Kissimmee, Florida. 'Wasn't even trying to be sneaky about it. That says something about how unacceptable behavior has become normal.' Obama recalled his event two days earlier in North Carolina, when he urged a crowd to go easy on a protester, apparently an elderly veteran, saying the man had earned their respect and had a right to free speech. Later that night, however, Trump told his own crowd that Obama 'spent so much time screaming at a protester.' Media organizations quickly called Trump out for, as one CNN headline put it, the 'wild misrepresentation,' and PolitiFact gave Trump a 'pants on fire.' But Obama clearly wanted to set the record straight himself, saying Trump 'just made it up.'" -- CW ...

Now, if somebody can't handle a Twitter account, they can't handle the nuclear codes. -- President Obama, at a campaign rally in Kissimmee, Fla., Sunday ...

...The Narcissist in November. Maggie Haberman, et al., of the New York Times: "Aboard his gold-plated jumbo jet..., [Donald Trump] does not like to ... be alone..., insisting that aides stay up and keep talking to him. He prefers the soothing, whispery voice of his son-in-law. He requires constant assurance that his candidacy is on track.... In the final days of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump's candidacy is a jarring split screen: the choreographed show of calm and confidence orchestrated by his staff, and the neediness and vulnerability of a once-boastful candidate now uncertain of victory.... Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to ... savage his rivals. But offline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all of the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund a 'super PAC' with vengeance as its core mission.... Mr. Trump's campaign is no longer making headlines with embarrassing staff shake-ups. But that has left him with a band of squabbling and unfireable advisers, with confusing roles and an inability to sign off on basic tasks. A plan to encourage early voting in Florida went unapproved for weeks. The result is chaotic." -- CW ...

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "What [the NYT report] truly demonstrates is just how much effort it takes to get Trump to act anything like a normal presidential candidate, and how damaging he's likely to be when he's no longer under those restraints." -- CW

George Packer of the New Yorker has a long read on how the Democratic Party has lost the white working-class voters, and if/how Hillary Clinton can win them back. --safari

Chas Danner of New York: "Following the news that one Bernie-Sanders-supporting electoral college voter in Washington State was vowing he would not cast his vote for Hillary Clinton if and when she wins the state's popular vote, another electoral college voter in the state has told the Seattle Times that he isn't sure he'll support her either.... Clinton is widely expected to win Washington State on Election Day and thus be pledged its 12 electoral votes toward the 270 she needs to defeat Donald Trump and win the presidency. There is no constitutional requirement for Electoral College voters to support the winner of the popular vote in their state, but some states penalize such 'faithless electors.'...." --safari

Joe Romm of ThinkProgress: "In the last week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to zero out all federal spending on clean energy research and development. And the plan he released would also zero out all other spending on anything to do with climate change, including the government's entire climate science effort. You may have missed this bombshell because team Trump did not spell out these cuts overtly. In a campaign where the media has 'utterly failed to convey the policy stakes in the election,' as Vox's Matt Yglesias explained recently, it appears only Bloomberg BNA bothered to follow up with the campaign to get at the truth of Trump's radical proposal." Upon further questioning, the Trump campaign is just making shit up. Surprise! --safari

Robert Mackey of The Intercept: "Introducing Donald Trump at a rally in Reno on Saturday, the chairman of the Nevada Republican party complained to a largely white crowd that voters in another part of the state, with a large Latino population, were allowed to vote late the night before.... What [Michael] McDonald [the GOP chairman] failed to explain is that some polling places were open later than 7 p.m., and polls routinely stay open late to allow anyone waiting in line when they close to cast their ballots. Despite these facts, and the chilling sound of a politician casting doubt on the rights of members of an ethnic minority to exercise their right to vote, Trump then claimed that the votes cast in a Clark County polling place in a Mexican supermarket -- most likely against him -- were evidence of fraud. 'It's being reported that certain key Democratic polling locations in Clark County were kept open for hours and hours beyond closing time to bus and bring Democratic voters in,' Trump said. 'Folks, it's a rigged system.'" --safari ...

     ... Jeremy Diamond of CNN: "The chairman of the Nevada Republican Party argued Saturday during a rally [in Reno] for Donald Trump that polling locations stayed open late to accommodate long lines of voters 'so a certain group could vote.'... The chairman, Michael McDonald, was referring to a polling location in Clark County, which is 30% Hispanic and the county in which Las Vegas is located. The polling location stayed open to allow voters who were already in line -- many of whom waited more than two hours, according to local reports -- to cast their ballots." CW: Yeah, Mike, we like to call that "certain group," "registered voters," and we're wondering why the county hasn't provided enough polling places so they could do so timely. ...

......Steven Shepard of Politico: "Early-vote statistics from battleground states with large Hispanic populations show record turnout among a bloc that has voted at a lower rate than whites or blacks in past elections...In Florida, which tracks turnout by race and ethnicity, Hispanics have so far cast about 14 percent of the 5.7 million early and absentee ballots cast.... That follows Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale's analysis, which notes that, through Wednesday alone, Hispanic turnout in 2016 had already exceeded -- by 170,000 ballots -- Hispanic early voting in the entire 2012 cycle.... Similar signs suggest Democrats are seeing robust Hispanic turnout in Arizona as well. And even Texas, considered out of reach for Democrats, is seeing asurge across the state's most populous counties." --safari...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Within minutes [of a scuffle at Trump's Reno rally]..., Donald Trump Jr., and top social media aide Dan Scavino -- passed along later-disproven claims that the GOP nominee had just survived an 'assassination attempt.' And on stage at Trump's next rally in Denver, Father Andre ​Mahanna said Trump had survived 'an attempt of murder.' Even as late as Sunday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was playing up the idea that this was a "Democratic plant" trying to disrupt Trump's rally.... Trump Jr. also passed along a claim that the person who caused the disturbance had a gun.... And he retweeted a suggestion, shortly after the incident, that Democrats were to blame for violence at Trump rallies.... None of these things appear to be true, based upon the evidence at hand." More on this ridiculous story below. The only person who was under threat was the protester, a Republican. -- CW

Robert Mackey: "Donald Trump's advertising campaign is ending as it started, with footage of migrants in Europe, lifted from the internet and passed off as video of immigrants streaming across the border from Mexico into the United States. Near the start of the new ad, as the candidate complains of 'massive illegal immigration,' thousands of people are shown walking along a highway...That video, however, was not shot along the southern border of the U.S. -- where Trump has promised to build a great wall -- but in Hungary, at the height of the migrant crisis last year.... If the footage was used in error, it would be an odd slip, since the Trump campaign was ridiculed for doing the exact same thing in their first ad, at the start of the year...It seems possible, however, that the ad is intentionally misleading, and hopes to conflate the situation in the U.S. with the huge number of migrants seeking refuge in Europe from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan." --safari

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Which party will control the Senate is anybody's guess. -- CW

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "It's time for 10 questions about where where the race stands.... Hillary Clinton is ahead in most national polls.... The map is much broader than it was in 2012. Clinton's 'firewall' has crumbled to some extent with the tighter polls in New Hampshire, although Nevada -- where early-voting data portends a much more favorable outcome for Clinton than polls do -- could potentially replace it." Trump is doing better in the Electoral College vote than in the national polls. -- CW ...

     ... Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post explains why he thinks Silver's "unskewing" of presidential polling data -- or as Grim calls it, "monkeying around with the numbers" -- misrepresents Trump's strength. Clinton has a considerably higher chance of winning the election than Silver's model projects, Grim writes. ...

... Karen Tumulty & Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "... the wildest U.S. presidential race in memory has grown more competitive in most of the battleground states, although Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton continues to hold a broader path to victory than Republican Donald Trump. The political map suggests that Clinton can lose several key states long assumed to be in her column and still reach the 270 electoral votes she needs to win. Trump, meanwhile, has a new reason for optimism, as a growing number of states appear potentially within his grasp. But to win, he would have to take nearly all of them." -- CW ...

... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton has a consistent and clear advantage in states worth at least 270 electoral votes, even if the race has undoubtedly tightened over the last few weeks. But even that understates the challenge facing Mr. Trump's campaign: It's not at all obvious where he has his best chance of breaking through, making it harder for him to concentrate his efforts over the last days of the campaign. This is not to say that Mr. Trump can't win. The polls could be off across the board. But even if he wins Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Utah, North Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire, he's still short of a victory." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "The biggest news in the presidential race Saturday morning comes out of Nevada, where a Friday night spike in Latino early voting appears to have given the Democrats a bigger pre-Election Day advantage than they enjoyed there in 2012 -- when Barack Obama won the state by nearly seven points. Thus, barring an unprecedented (though, possible) spike in rural white turnout on Election Day, Hillary Clinton will take Nevada. And if she does, Trump's path to the presidency narrows to tightrope...." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Hispanic voters in key states surged to cast their ballots in the final days of early voting this weekend, a demonstration of political power that lifted Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes and threatened to block off Donald J. Trump's path to the White House. In Florida, energized by the groundswell of Latino support and hoping to drive even more voters to the polls, Mrs. Clinton visited a handful of immigrant communities on Saturday and rallied Democrats in a town filled with Hispanic and Caribbean migrants." -- CW: All I can say is, "Muchas gracias a mis amigos."

Singing in the Rain:

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post seems shocked & amazed that Tim Kaine would state the obvious: "some officials at the FBI are 'actively working' to support ... Donald Trump." Maybe Ed hasn't been reading the same newspapers I have -- like the WashPo. Anyway, good interview:

Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Donald Trump was rushed off stage by Secret Service agents after a disturbance in the crowd at a Reno, Nevada rally Saturday. Amid scenes of chaos near the front of the stage, a man was escorted out of the crowd by agents. Two Nevada Republican sources who spoke with multiple attendees who witnessed the incident said a scuffle broke out when a man appeared to raise a sign in protest of Trump. Amid the jockeying, someone yelled 'gun,' setting off a panic just before Secret Service reacted and ushered Trump off stage. The Republican nominee appeared unharmed back on stage several minutes later, finishing his speech.... The Trump campaign's social director Jack Posobiec tweeted, 'Hillary ran away from rain today. Trump is back on stage minutes after assassination attempt.'" CW: An assassination attempt? Really? I'm guessing the only part of that statement that's correct is "ass." ...

     ... Update. Candace Smith & John Santucci of ABC News: "Sources within the Trump campaign told ABC News that the commotion started when someone in the rally yelled 'Gun!' but said that no gun was found. When contacted by ABC News, Reno Police Department said that they had little detail, only that they had initially been informed that there was a 'medical incident' that precipitated the commotion." -- CW ...

     ... CW: So no gun, but medical emergency. What was the plan: assassination by projectile vomit? (Yeah, you're right; I don't know enough about what happened to make light of the incident. But I just can't get over the level of hyperbole that comes out of those Trumpsters.) ...

     ... Update 2: Ashley Parker & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "A man thought to have the gun was apprehended, but no weapon was found, the Secret Service said, and the man was released. Reporters from The Guardian and KRNV, a Reno television station, who interviewed the man reported on Twitter that he had been holding a 'Republicans Against Trump' sign." CW: Okay then, assassination by insult. But Trump is really, really brave! And take a look at the video above. Doesn't Clinton look, like, totally petrified by a little downpour? ...

The people who attacked me -- I'm not blaming them. I'm blaming Donald Trump's hate rhetoric.... The fact that I got beat up today, that's just showing what he's doing to his crowds. -- Austyn Crites, after a Trump crowd beat him up during a rally

     ... Trump's America. Paul Lewis & Tom Silverstone of the Guardian: "The man whose protest saw Donald Trump rushed off the stage by Secret Service agents has said the Republican nominee's supporters turned on him when he held up a sign reading: 'Republicans against Trump'. The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites from Reno, told the Guardian he was holding the sign at a rally when Trump supporters wrestled him to the ground. The 33-year-old -- who says he has been a registered Republican for about six years -- said he was kicked, punched and choked, and feared for his life when the crowd turned on him at the gathering in Reno, Nevada.... The crowd piled on him, he said, kicking, punching, holding him on the ground and grabbing his testicles. He said he ... turn[ed] his head to the side to maintain an airway open as he was being choked by one man...." -- CW

Nolan McCaskill: "Donald Trump on Saturday complimented a state official who called Hillary Clinton a 'c[unt]' and cited him as evidence that he's winning Texas." -- CW

Josh Marshall: Trump's closing ad is a two-minute anti-Semitic dog whistle. "I'm not even sure whether it makes sense to call them dog whistles. The four readily identifiable American bad guys in the ad are Hillary Clinton, George Soros (Jewish financier), Janet Yellen (Jewish Fed Chair) and Lloyd Blankfein (Jewish Goldman Sachs CEO).... [Trump's narration is a string of] standard anti-Semitic themes and storylines, using established anti-Semitic vocabulary lined up with high profile Jews as the only Americans other than Clinton who are apparently relevant to the story.... This is an ad intended to appeal to anti-Semites and spread anti-Semitic ideas.... This is intentional and by design. It is no accident." Included ad. -- CW

The Mogul as President. David Barstow of the New York Times: "Regardless of how carefully the Trumps [say they will] police potential conflicts of interest, critics have been quick to note that Mr. Trump’s tax proposals alone would clearly benefit his business empire, not to mention the estate his children could expect to inherit on his death. Less clear is how Mr. Trump's oversight of the Internal Revenue Service might impact an agency that has had Mr. Trump or his partnerships under nearly constant audit for more than two decades. Then there are all the times Mr. Trump has used his business empire as a backdrop during his campaign -- at times combining campaign statements with naked promotions for his properties...." -- CW

The Biggest Liar. Daniel Dale & Tanya Talaga of the Toronto Star: "The Star's Daniel Dale has been fact checking Trump's public statements on the U.S. election campaign trail since September 15. Below, find the complete list of the false statements Dale has found. After that (very long) list, Tanya Talaga examines the errors, exaggerations and lies for patterns." -- CW ...

... Daniel Politi of Slate: "The 494 falsehoods are sorted into 20 categories and analyzed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the category that has the most falsehoods is 'Clinton's policies,' followed by 'Clinton' corruption,' and then polls. But in a close fourth place is a 'WTF' category, illustrating how some of the lies that Trump tells on the trail 'remain hard to explain.'" -- CW ...

... Politico Magazine lists "the 155 craziest things Trump said this election." -- CW ...

... In case you're wondering what Trump has said (lied) about the Abedin e-mails that are the subject of Jim Comey's Congressional Republican Appeasement Letter, Sean Lavery has a nice rundown in the New Yorker. If Abedin took Clinton's dog to the vet for a booster shot, Trump would cite it as proof Clinton had tried to poison the pup. (Also too, the FBI's New York office would leak news of an impending Clinton indictment, and Congress would demand a special prosecutor & appropriate $25MM for a thorough investigation of DoggyGate.) -- CW

Trumpsky Dachas, Fla., U.S.A. Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ­Russia-aligned policy positions have prompted critics to question the extent of the Republican presidential nominee's financial connection to that country. While he has denied having investments in Russia, the experience in ­Sunny Isles[, Fla.,] and other Trump-branded communities shows how Russians have invested in him. In addition to the towers of 'Little Moscow,' Russian investors have been a valuable source of capital for Trump buildings in nearby Hollywood, Fla., and in a large complex in Panama City, Panama. Trump does not own these buildings, but, like many Trump projects around the world, he licensed the use of his name and took a percentage of the profits from the initial sales of units. Real estate agents say there have been fewer Russian investors in Florida condos since U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia took effect in 2014. They predict that the market will improve if Trump wins and reconsiders the sanctions." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Paul Campos on the news that the paper of record, the National Enquirer, paid $150K to spike a story about an affair Donald Trump (allegedly) had while his wife Melania was pregnant (story linked yesterday): "Of course the real scandal here is that the Enquirer did this after running, at the most crucial juncture of the GOP primaries, an unsubstantiated story about Ted Cruz having an affair, and a completely hallucinogenic story about Cruz's father taking part in the murder of JFK. That Trump is a completely amoral pig who is more than willing to have sex with other women while his wife is otherwise occupied in a maternity ward is not exactly breaking news, although maybe it should give pause to his biggest evangelical boosters. (Who am I kidding?)." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

CNN "correspondent" Corey Lewandowski, center, "posing with current Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks, in New Hampshire at a Trump rally [Friday] ... with the hashtag #Teamwork." -- Mediaite... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "The Enquirer, which Trump has repeatedly said deserves to win a Pulitzer Prize for its revealing of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards's 'love child,' also published an evidence-free story on Saturday that Hillary Clinton is addicted to narcotics. Combine this with the debunked reporting by Fox News of a likely Clinton indictment after the election, and then add in the much-tweeted photo of CNN's paid pundit Corey Lewandowski shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump's campaign brass, labeled 'teamwork,' and the conclusion is obvious: We're ending this campaign deep in the journalistic gutter.... Lewandowski's hiring at CNN after leaving the Trump campaign is one of the worst embarrassments in a campaign season in which the competition for such a dubious prize is fierce indeed.... Meanwhile, fake news is everywhere. The Drudge Report, in one of the most bizarre examples, has been promoting [an absurdly false] story about Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta drinking bodily fluids at a secret Satanist dinner." -- CW

Rosalind Helderman & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "Melania Trump ..., an immigrant from Slovenia, was paid for 10 modeling jobs in 1996 before she received legal authorization to work in the United States, the Associated Press reported Friday night.... [Story linked yesterday.] The finding contradicts repeated statements from both Melania and Donald Trump, who have insisted that she scrupulously followed U.S. immigration law when she came to the United States.... [Donald Trump] has based much of his campaign on a vow to crack down on illegal immigration -- including deporting people who have violated the terms of their immigration status.... In a speech [Melania Trump] delivered Thursday in a Philadelphia suburb, she again highlighted her legal immigration status.... Trump has promised to deport people who have violated the terms of their visas.... Immigration experts say questions remain about how Melania was able to obtain her green card in 2001.... She has said she was granted the permit because of 'extraordinary ability,' but experts say that visa category is generally reserved for people whose accomplishment is at the level of a Nobel Prize winner. It would be unusual, they say, for a model with no college degree to qualify." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Christie Confined to New Jersey -- Complains Ankle Bracelet Is Too Tight. Jen Kirby of New York: "New Jersey governor Chris Christie is reportedly no longer taking a weekend trip to New Hampshire to campaign for ... Donald Trump. The cancellations in the battleground state come less than a day after two of his former allies were convicted in the Bridgegate scandal. Christie ... once again, denied involvement in the political scheme after the verdict came down Friday -- though revelations from the trial indicate otherwise. Either way, it's not the best look for a surrogate of a candidate whose top campaign theme revolves around locking up his political rival." -- CW

Wherein Wolf Blitzer, of all people, catches America's Mayor in a series of lies. Who knew Rudy could tap-dance? Maybe it's the bowtie. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... What's Rudy Getting for His Trumpiness? Why, Cash, of Course. Wayne Barrett in the Daily Beast: "Make America Number 1, the pro-Trump super-PAC controlled by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, has paid law firms associated with Rudy Giuliani $563,003 in 2015 and 2016.... On its website, the group described itself as 'supporting conservative principles, upholding the rule of law, and opposing ethically challenged candidates.... It's (sic) first special project entitled, 'Defeat Crooked Hillary', will shed light on what the Clinton's (sic) want to keep in the dark.'" -- CW ...

... CW BTW: If you're thinking Gov. Bridgegate might be out of the running for most lawless attorney general since John Mitchell (sorry, Ed Meese; nice try though), quit smiling. On paper, Rudy is just as qualified as Gov. Chrisco to fill the AG slot, and he is certainly Drumpf's type of "lawman."

New York Times: "The New York Times is inviting readers to take advantage of its reporting, analysis and commentary from the lead-up through the aftermath of the 2016 election. Readers will have unlimited access to NYTimes.com for 72 hours from 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, November 7 until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 9."

Election News

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "The Supreme Court on Saturday morning indicated that it doesn't want lower courts messing with election laws before Tuesday's election. Attempting to slow an ever-expanding map of pre-election litigation, the justices sent a message to lower courts that the time had passed for rulings that would change the way election laws are implemented for the upcoming election. In a brief, unsigned order on Saturday morning, the Supreme Court effectively reversed a Friday decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- putting a ruling from the appeals court on hold for now that had stopped enforcement of an Arizona law that made third-party collection of early voting ballots a felony. That complicated procedural, legal mess can be simplified to one short sentence: The Supreme Court said that the law in place when voting began in Arizona will remain in effect in Arizona through the election." -- CW

Tierney Sneed of TPM: "The federal judge overseeing a legal case involving a decades-old consent decree limiting the Republican National Committee's involvement in so-called 'ballot security' initiatives sided with the RNC Saturday. U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez denied the Democratic National Committee's requests to hold the Republican in contempt of court for allegedly violating the decree. He also denied the DNC's request to place an injunction on the RNC's alleged ballot security activities. Finally, he denied for now its request to extend by eight years the length of consent decree, which otherwise expires December 2017. The DNC had brought the legal action last month, with accusations that the RNC was assisting the Donald Trump campaign's poll watcher efforts. The judge said that the Democrats did not provide enough evidence to prove that Trump was acting as an 'agent' of the RNC, as the decree spells out that it applies only to the RNC and its agents." CW: Vazquez is an Obama appointee.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Alison Smale & Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Volkswagen has been struggling for a year to repair the damage caused by a scandal over its cover-up of diesel emissions, promising honesty and transparency. Now historians are accusing the company of reverting to secretive ways on a different subject: the Nazi past of German automakers. Over the past 18 years, Volkswagen became something of a pioneer in revealing the company's employment of thousands of forced laborers during World War II. But it has abruptly parted ways with the company historian who helped make that possible." -- CW

Friday
Nov042016

The Commentariat -- November 5, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Trumpsky Dachas, Fla., U.S.A. Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ­Russia-aligned policy positions have prompted critics to question the extent of the Republican presidential nominee's financial connection to that country. While he has denied having investments in Russia, the experience in ­Sunny Isles[, Fla.,] and other Trump-branded communities shows how Russians have invested in him. In addition to the towers of 'Little Moscow,' Russian investors have been a valuable source of capital for Trump buildings in nearby Hollywood, Fla., and in a large complex in Panama City, Panama. Trump does not own these buildings, but, like many Trump projects around the world, he licensed the use of his name and took a percentage of the profits from the initial sales of units. Real estate agents say there have been fewer Russian investors in Florida condos since U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia took effect in 2014. They predict that the market will improve if Trump wins and reconsiders the sanctions." -- CW

Rosalind Helderman & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "Melania Trump ..., an immigrant from Slovenia, was paid for 10 modeling jobs in 1996 before she received legal authorization to work in the United States, the Associated Press reported Friday night.... [Story linked below.] The finding contradicts repeated statements from both Melania and Donald Trump, who have insisted that she scrupulously followed U.S. immigration law when she came to the United States.... [Donald Trump] has based much of his campaign on a vow to crack down on illegal immigration -- including deporting people who have violated the terms of their immigration status.... In a speech [Melania Trump] delivered Thursday in a Philadelphia suburb, she again highlighted her legal immigration status.... Trump has promised to deport people who have violated the terms of their visas.... Immigration experts say questions remain about how Melania was able to obtain her green card in 2001.... She has said she was granted the permit because of 'extraordinary ability,' but experts say that visa category is generally reserved for people whose accomplishment is at the level of a Nobel Prize winner. It would be unusual, they say, for a model with no college degree to qualify." -- CW

Paul Campos on the news that the paper of record, the National Enquirer, paid $150K to spike a story about an affair Donald Trump (allegedly) had while his new wife Melania was pregnant (story linked below): "Of course the real scandal here is that the Enquirer did this after running, at the most crucial juncture of the GOP primaries, an unsubstantiated story about Ted Cruz having an affair, and a completely hallucinogenic story about Cruz's father taking part in the murder of JFK. That Trump is a completely amoral pig who is more than willing to have sex with other women while his wife is otherwise occupied in a maternity ward is not exactly breaking news, although maybe it should give pause to his biggest evangelical boosters. (Who am I kidding?)." -- CW

Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Donald Trump on Saturday complimented a state official who called Hillary Clinton a 'c[unt]' and cited him as evidence that he's winning Texas." -- CW

Wherein Wolf Blitzer, of all people, catches America's Mayor in a series of lies. Who knew Rudy could tap-dance? Maybe it's the bowtie. -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "We're a couple of days removed from the point when almost every poll showed Hillary Clinton on a downward trajectory. Instead, polls over the past 24 hours have been more equivocal. National polls tend to suggest that Donald Trump's momentum has halted, and that Clinton may even be regaining ground. But Trump is getting his share of good results in state polls, which both show competitive races in some of Clinton's 'firewall' states and favorable trend lines for Trump." -- CW ...

... "Trump is Just a Normal Polling Error Behind Clinton." Harry Enten of 538: "All of this is to say that even if Clinton's lead [in the pre-election polls] over Trump doesn't shrink anymore, Trump might still win. He would need only a normal-sized polling error. Of course, that error would need to be in his favor, and there's nothing inherent about polling errors that says they must aid the trailing candidate." -- CW

The New York Times is reporting "live briefings" of weekend campaign doings here.

Most Trump Campaign Trail Surrogates Are Dirty Old Men. Alexander Burns & Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton campaigned Friday in the company of friends and celebrities, first flanked by the billionaire businessman Mark Cuban in Pittsburgh and Detroit, and then bound for a Jay Z concert in Cleveland. High-wattage political leaders fanned out for her around the country: Her husband, Bill, stumped in Colorado, as President Obama rallied voters in North Carolina.

     ... By comparison, Donald J. Trump was a lonely figure. In the final days of the presidential race, Mr. Trump's political isolation has made for an unusual spectacle on the campaign trail -- and perhaps a limiting factor in his dogged comeback bid. When it comes to bolstering Mr. Trump, the Republican Party is not sending its best:... Mr. Trump has been left instead with an eclectic group of backup players to aid him in his last dash for votes.... The most prominent Republicans in key swing states still fear that his unpopularity may taint them by association. Campaigning in New Hampshire on Friday, Mr. Trump did not appear with either Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican seeking re-election, or Chris Sununu, the Republican nominee for governor. Ms. Ayotte withdrew her endorsement of Mr. Trump last month, and Mr. Sununu has kept an awkward distance from Mr. Trump in his closely divided state. But Mr. Sununu's father, John H. Sununu, 77, a former governor of the state known for his irascible temper, introduced Mr. Trump with a crude joke about the Clintons. 'Do you think Bill was referring to Hillary when he said, "I did not have sex with that woman?"' Mr. Sununu cracked, drawing laughter from the crowd." See also Election News below. -- CW

Yamiche Alcindor & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Some of the most famous names in hip-hop came out to rally votes for [Hillary Clinton] at an event [in Cleveland] that featured Beyoncé, Jay Z and Chance the Rapper, all of whom implored thousands of cheering people to back the Democratic presidential nominee.... At the concert, aimed largely at urging black voters and millennials to vote on Tuesday, some of the biggest stars emphasized the historical significance of potentially electing the first woman as president." -- CW

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "President Barack Obama went into the final stretch of the 2016 campaign warning that Donald Trump is within range of winning, urging voters -- particularly black voters, whose turnout is lagging -- to see the Republican nominee as running an un-American, inhumane, racist campaign that must be stopped. 'This should not be a close race, but it's going to be a close race. It's going to be especially close here in North Carolina,' Obama said.... 'The fact that he has gotten this far tells me the degree to which our politics has become like a bad reality TV show.'... Obama said that in a state with a history of Jim Crow and more recent battles over voting rights restrictions, there is a special responsibility to show up at the polls and speak out. Think about the 100-year old North Carolina woman who'd been kicked off the voter rolls, he said, and recounted her fight to get herself reinstated in a letter that the president read to the crowd. 'It's bad enough she was disrespected. Are we now also going to respect her because we're not voting?' Obama said." -- CW

Bill's Crocodile Tears. Madeline Conway of Politico: "Bill Clinton on Friday used Melania Trump's 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 ... 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

David Corn of Mother Jones: "In an episode reminiscent of Watergate, the Democratic Party recently informed the FBI that it had collected evidence suggesting its Washington headquarters had been bugged, according to two Democratic National Committee officials.... [A sweep in October] found a radio signal near the chairman's office that indicated there might be a listening device outside the office. 'We were told that this was something that could pick up calls from cellphones,' a DNC official says.... No device was recovered. No possible culprits were identified." -- CW

** Adam Serwer of the Atlantic: "FBI Director James Comey's decision to reveal fresh details of the Bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server while secretary of state, and the subsequent leaks from Bureau sources casting suspicion on Clinton and defending Republican nominee Donald Trump from allegations of Russian influence, do more than threaten the Bureau's reputation. They threaten American democracy as much as any of Trump's authoritarian proposals.... [Comey's] move, coming less than two weeks before the presidential election, suggests that some at the FBI once again feel untouchable.... It seems clear that key officials at the Bureau no longer feel that the rules against politicized disclosures apply to them.... A presidential election should not depend on the ability of candidates to successfully intimidate or cultivate favor among American national-security agencies." CW: Read the whole essay. I think it's excellent. ...

... Washington Post Editors: "IT WAS disruptive enough that James B. Comey ... injected last-minute uncertainty into the presidential campaign by announcing discovery of additional emails in the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private server. Mr. Comey's explanation for the disclosure ... was dubious, and the damaging impact, casting a new shadow over Ms. Clinton, was tangible. In the days since, the FBI's behavior has grown even more questionable. FBI sources have fanned new doubts about Ms. Clinton's candidacy with inaccurate leaks about an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. This reflects poorly on Mr. Comey's leadership and on the FBI.... Most irresponsible of all was Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who declared an 'avalanche' of evidence is 'coming every day' and an 'expansive' investigation into the foundation was ongoing and would lead 'to likely an indictment.' Without any substantiation whatsoever ... the headlines took off. The false report of an impending indictment was then repeated by Donald Trump." -- CW ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "One can start to imagine a path: FBI agents who hate Clinton leak to reporters or pass information to people like [form head of the NYC FBI office Jim] Kallstrom and [Rudy 9/11] Giuliani, who then send it to the media. Pressed on Fox and Friends Friday on whether he was tipped off ahead of time about the recent leaks, Giuliani said, 'Did I hear about it? You're darn right I heard about it, and I can't even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agents.' There is some irony that even as the Trump campaign is alleging improper communication between the Department of Justice and the Clinton campaign, a top Trump adviser is receiving just that kind of information. Giuliani's statement has already attracted the attention of Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, who wrote a letter Friday to the inspector general of the Justice Department requesting an investigation into the leaks." -- CW

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Fox News anchor Bret Baier apologized Friday for [falsely] reporting that federal investigators had determined that Hillary Clinton's private email server had been hacked and that an investigation would lead to an indictment of Clinton after the election. In fact, Baier said, after checking with his sources, there is no evidence at this time for either statement. Baier, the anchor of Fox's evening newscast..., went on the air Wednesday to report that the FBI had determined that Clinton's private server, which she used while serving as secretary of state, had been hacked by 'five foreign intelligence agencies.' He further said on Thursday, during an interview with Fox's Brit Hume, that a separate FBI investigation - of the charitable Clinton Foundation -- was 'likely' to lead to an indictment of Clinton after Tuesday's election." -- CW: Of course it took the other major networks call your bluff before Baier coughed up an apology. See yesterday's Commentariat. ...

... Legitimizing Corruption -- Any Means to an End. Eric Levitz of New York: "'The damage is done to Hillary Clinton,' Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC's Brian Williams on Friday.... Conway hastened to explain that the 'damage' here was very good damage.... 'No matter how it's being termed, the voters are hearing it for what it is -- a culture of corruption,' Conway explained.... The damage is done. And, per Kellyanne Conway, James Comey and Bret Baier should be very proud." -- CW ...

... Matt Yglesias of Vox: "... emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit. The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the US presidential election -- overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way.... Network newscasts have, remarkably, dedicated more airtime to coverage of Clinton's emails than to all policy issues combined.... Clinton broke no laws according to the FBI itself. Her setup gave her no power to evade federal transparency laws beyond what anyone who has a personal email account of any kind has. Her stated explanation for her conduct is entirely believable, fits the facts perfectly, and is entirely plausible to anyone who doesn't simply start with the assumption that she's guilty of something. Given [Colin] Powell's conduct, Clinton wasn't even breaking with an informal precedent." ...

     ... CW: If your dimwitted brother-in-law is still citing "the e-mails" as his reason for voting for Trump, send him Yglesias's post, assign him to read it, & then call him to discuss it. Your brother-in-law is going to have to come up with another bullshit excuse for an irresponsible vote for Trump, because Yglesias does a bang-up job of shooting down all the "Clinton e-mail scandal" shibboleths. This is not a "Clinton scandal"; it's a GOP/media/FBI scandal. ...

... MEANWHILE, in PodestaGate news, Abby Ohlheiser of the Washington Post has found it necessary to write a story under the headline "No, John Podesta didn't drink bodily fluids at a secret Satanist dinner." Why? Because an e-mail in the WikiLeaks Podesta dump "has prompted more than 400,000 tweets of a trending Twitter hashtag, a huge Drudge Report headline and a ton of right-wing news items, all claiming that the email proves a secret link between the Clinton campaign and Satan worship (which, just to be clear right here, it does not)." Here's a screenshot of Matt Drudge's top story Friday:

     ... CW: Maybe it's time for a massive, nationwide exorcism. These people are possessed.


Never Let the Facts Get in the Way. Eli Stokols
of Politico: Hillary "Clinton, [Donald] Trump predicted, will 'be under investigation for years.' Her election, he continued, would lead to 'an unprecedented constitutional crisis.'... Friday's news cycle did not exactly dovetail neatly with Trump's closing argument. As Trump was promising to 'drain the swamp' in Washington and portraying the federal government and Clinton as corrupt, two top allies of one of his most high-profile surrogates [Gov. Chrisco] were convicted -- and another [Rudy 9/11] went on television and appeared to claim that FBI contacts had tipped him off about its ongoing investigation of Clinton. And the journalist [Bret Baier] on whose story Trump has based his recent claim that Clinton will be indicted went on television Friday morning to apologize, calling his report 'a mistake.'... [In his campaign stops,] Trump did not refer to any of Friday's new developments with the exception of the monthly jobs report, which showed that 160,000 jobs were created in October and observers viewed as a sign that the economy continues to grow, albeit slowly. 'Nobody believes the numbers anyway,' Trump said. 'The numbers they put out are phony.'" -- CW

Jonathan Chait on the non-effects of the Bridgegate verdicts (see stories lined under Beyond the Beltway: "... to summarize, Trump pronounced Christie guilty of legally abusing his power, then appointed him to a position where he would have immense latitude to abuse his power, whereupon he announced a plan of action that would make such abuses virtually inevitable even if an ethical politician was handling it, and then ran a campaign centered on 'draining the swamp.'... The most amazing thing about this is that nobody will care.... The news media has figured out that Trump's supporters' beliefs about his ethics, and the criminality of his opponent, are not subject to amendment on the basis of evidence. Journalists have internalized this reality.... Somewhere around the time he attracted a massive conservative following by promoting the birther hoax, Trump figured out that the Republican electorate was the biggest pool of suckers in America. It's a cohort that resides within a hermetically sealed counterfactual universe." -- CW

National Enquirer Buries Trump Sex Scandal. Gabrielle Bluestone of Jezebel: "In a story that dropped late Friday night, the Wall Street Journal reports that a Playboy model who says she had an affair with Donald Trump got a $150,000 paycheck from the National Enquirer, which curiously sat on the story after buying it. The Journal ... reports that in August, the tabloid paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year who said she enjoyed a consensual relationship with Trump in 2006 -- a year after his wedding to his third and current wife, Melania. The Journal categorizes the exchange as a 'catch and kill,' where the tabloid bought her story to silence her. A source tells the Journal that despite paying out six figures for the story, the Enquirer's parent company, American Media, 'didn't intend to run it.'" -- CW ...

... The Wall Street Journal story, by Joe Palazzolo & others, is here, and at least at the moment (midnight ET), it is not firewalled. The lede: "The company that owns the National Enquirer, a backer of Donald Trump, agreed to pay $150,000 to a former Playboy centerfold model for her story of an affair a decade ago with the Republican presidential nominee, but then didn't publish it, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter." ...

     ... CW: It would take a lot more than the privilege of occupying tacky, gilded quarters with a nasty, lying, abusive reprobate to get me to put up with the crap for which Melania Trump has sold her soul. Free Melania!

Anna Merlan of Jezebel: "A woman who accused Donald Trump of raping her at a party when she was just 13 years old has voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit, according to court records. The woman, who has gone by the pseudonyms Jane Doe and Katie Johnson, was a no-show at a much hyped press conference earlier this week with celebrity attorney Lisa Bloom." -- CW

AP: "Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press. The details of Mrs. Trump's early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them.... The documents examined by the AP indicate that the modeling assignments would have been outside the bounds of her visa.... Since questions arose earlier this year, Mrs. Trump has declined to publicly release her immigration records." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Cliffhanger: Will Melania "self-deport" before Donald sends immigration goon squads to arrest her and "Lock her up"? Tune in next Wednesday to find out.

Election News

Today in Republican Voter Suppression News

Eric Heisig of Cleveland.com: "A federal judge on Friday said he will issue a restraining order against Donald Trump's campaign and longtime adviser Roger Stone to avoid 'harassing or intimidating conduct' at polling places on Nov. 8 Election Day. U.S. District Judge James Gwin did not specify exactly what will or will not be allowed but said the order would likely be generic and prohibit both Democrats and Republicans from harassment of people entering and leaving polling places. 'It wouldn't be any attempt to particularly identify as somebody being a Trump supporter or not,' Gwin said. The judge also appeared unlikely to tinker with those poll observers whose names are submitted by each political party and are then approved by county boards of elections. It also seemed like many of the actions he would forbid in his restraining order are already illegal, though the order could result in a contempt charge for anybody accused of violating it.... By Friday evening, Trump's campaign had asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to review the order." Gwin is a Clinton appointee. ...

     ... CW: That's right. Donald Trump is going to appeal an order forbidding voter intimidation.

Voter Suppression the Easy Way. German Lopez of Vox: "Next week, Americans will hold the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.... But the US Supreme Court struck down part of the law in 2013, limiting the federal government's oversight of states with long histories of suppressing minority voters. As a result, states have passed more voting restrictions over the past several years.... But a new report ... finds another potential effect: Counties previously monitored through the Voting Rights Act have closed down at least 868 polling places since the Supreme Court's decision -- a 16 percent reduction.... (The report only looked at about half of the counties previously covered by the Voting Rights Act due to some limitations in the available data.)... Prior to the Supreme Court's decision, the federal government could oversee state and local governments' decisions to shut down polling places to ensure they weren't meant to disenfranchise minority voters. Today, the federal government's power is limited." -- CW ...

... Ari Berman of the Nation has more on the same report about Republicans' shutting down polling places. "Arizona, the poster child for voting problems in the primary, closed the highest percentage of polling places in the study. 'Almost every county in the state reduced polling places in advance of the 2016 election and almost every county closed polling places on a massive scale, resulting in 212 fewer polling places,' says the report (emphasis in original)" -- CW ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal judge has ordered officials in three North Carolina counties to restore several thousand voters dropped from the rolls in the past three months after mailings to their home addresses were returned as undeliverable. About 4,000 voters in those counties had their registrations canceled recently after private individuals and groups challenged the registrations under a process allowed by state law. U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs said the use of that process to remove large numbers of voters amounted to the kind of 'systematic' purging of voter rolls that federal law prohibits within 90 days of an election." -- CW ...

... Persistent, Multi-Pronged Voter Suppression. German Lopez: "North Carolina Republicans are using one shameful trick after another to keep Democrats [-- mostly black citizens --] from voting.... It might not be enough in the end, but it's clear what they're trying to do -- deny just enough people their basic constitutional rights to maybe swing an election or two or three" in a state where the presidential, senatorial & gubernatorial races are all extremely close. -- CW

Ken Dilanian, et al., of NBC News: "U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia's electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin's command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News. American officials have long said publicly that Russia, China and other nations have probed and left hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, 'preparing the battlefield,' in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities.... The documents reviewed by NBC News -- along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official -- confirm that, in the case of Russia." -- 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 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. ...

... AND, if -- after reading reports yesterday about a higher terrorist threat level -- you're thinking of staying home under the covers next Monday, then you'll want to read Steve M.'s report. Also, too, read the comment by Mikio for why Monday & not election day.

Other News & Views

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "The United States economy is basically healthy. That is the simplest, most important thing to take away from new jobs numbers released Friday morning, four days before the presidential election. These numbers affirm that Americans were probably right to focus on other things during this election.... The biggest and most pleasant surprise in these numbers is evidence that workers' wages are rising faster than they have through seven years of expansion." -- CW

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 72 inmates, the latest sign he is accelerating his clemency push during his final months in office. It was the second time in the past eight days the White House announced that a large group of people, most convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, would be released from federal prison. The two batches totaled 170 inmates. In total, 944 people have had their sentences cut short by Obama -- more than the last 11 presidents combined -- with 760 receiving commutations this year alone." -- CW

Science vs Trump. And It Starts Today. Chris Moody and 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.

Beyond the Beltway

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. ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's political career sustained a serious blow Friday after two of his former allies were found guilty of conspiring to shut down the nation's busiest bridge to punish a local mayor who refused to support the governor's reelection bid. While Christie wasn't charged in the 'Bridgegate' trial, the case produced a steady stream of new allegations against the governor that probably will haunt him.... On the first day of the trial..., prosecutors alleged that Christie knew about the plan to tie up traffic on the George Washington Bridge as it was happening. A key witness who admitted his own role in the affair would later testify that when he told Christie about the plot, Christie laughed. Christie has said that he did not know about the bridge plan and repeated that claim in a statement Friday.... In addition, [Christie aide Bridget Anne] Kelly said she told Christie of the lane closures before they happened...." -- CW ...

... Andrew Rice of New York: "In the end..., it is hard to resist the conclusion that the arrow points to the governor. Numerous witnesses testified that Christie was a micromanager who reveled in playing political hardball. (One memorable bit of testimony revealed that Christie called and threatened to 'fucking destroy' a county freeholder after it got back to the governor that he was complaining about the disbursement of Hurricane Sandy relief funds. In the governor's defense, the freeholder had also called Christie a 'fat motherfucker.')" -- CW

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

Al Baker & Eli Rosenberg of the New York Times: In the Bronx, Manuel Rosales, 35, of Long Island, shot two NYPD officers, one of them fatally. Rosales, who had reportedly entered -- and left -- a Bronx apartment, armed with a gun & looking for his estranged wife, "was killed during the exchange of gunfire with the officers. In an interview, his father said that Mr. Rosales had spoken of committing 'suicide by cop.'" -- CW

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