Saturday, November 05, 2016

Let's Hear It For Old White Guys

Oh, yeah.  They've each recorded this tune separately, but there's nothing on the planet like hearing them do it together--Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson, with some tasty Willie guitar.  Let's hear it from--and for--old white guys that ain't been Trumped.  Three more days.  Get out there on that sunny side at least once a day, okay?

The Donald Chronicles: A Make It or Break It Moment. And Break It Means BREAK IT

Welcome to your Schizophrenic Election News, where we alternate intimations of doomsday with the sunny side of the street.

I'll just start with Friday's positives, some of which I tackily tacked on to the last doomsday piece.

In the half dozen or so national polls issued Friday, Hillary had a small lead of 1-5 points.  Recall that the last polls taken in 2012 showed President Obama with a 1.8 lead.  ABC: Support for Donald Trump has slipped to its lowest in 10 days and enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton has recovered from its apparent damage by the latest FBI email investigation.

More to the point, the state polls look good.  Trump looks like he no longer has mo.  Hillary is ahead where she needs to be.

Several reports of more--and in some cases much more-- than usual Latino early voting.  And there's this:

BUZZ -- TUESDAY: AN EARLY NIGHT? -- Here’s one theory bouncing around the reporter and political campaign consultant world: Despite the recent tightening of the race, election night could be super boring. If Nevada political guru Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) is right -- and he usually is -- Hillary Clinton has all but won that state. If she takes Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia -- all states where she seems to have a lead, or is building one through early voting -- Donald Trump can win Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire and still lose.
PLUS, if you believe Steve Schale (@steveschale), one of the top Democratic consultants in Florida, he says Democrats are doing well: They have built a 161,000 vote margin in Broward County, and 170,000 more Hispanics voted early as of yesterday than voted early in the entire 2012 election. Schale says 70 percent of the Florida vote will be in by Sunday.
KEY LINE from Alex Burns and JMart’s A1 story: “Robby Mook, told donors on a conference call Thursday that the campaign expected to win Florida and North Carolina in large part because of Hispanic turnout. In Nevada, a third diverse battleground state, Mr. Mook said he no longer saw a path for Mr. Trump to win there.”

Of that other list, Colorado and Wisconsin are almost certainly going for Hillary. The extent of early voting may make this a different kind of election.

What's especially troubling about New Hampshire and Iowa seemingly tilting towards Trump is that these are largely white states.  This racial divide is getting way too close to total.  (But I don't quite believe Clinton losing New Hampshire.)

Then there's where the candidates are going. Trump is holding his big rallies in small places, in deep red zones.  Clinton and team are concentrating in swing states where early voting is underway, with some final touches to firm up blue ground, ending in a Hillary & Bill, Michelle & Barack reunion in Philadelphia.

Hillary began making her closing statement in Pittsburgh: "Sometimes the fate of the greatest nations comes down to single moments in time. This is one of those make-or-break moments," she said. "It is in your hands. And when your kids and your grandkids ask what you did in 2016 when everything was on the line, I hope you'll be able to say: I voted for a better, stronger, fairer America."

President Obama was in North Carolina where things sort got out of hand.  That a crowd on his side would ignore a President of the United States for a couple of minutes as they drowned out a protestor (which was pretty easy, since he was silent) suggests how at the edge everybody is.

  Josh Marshall has posted the video as the President told the crowd to focus, to honor the man's right to protest, his evident military service and his advanced age, and to stop booing and vote.  But he's also paired it with Donald Trump's description of what happened.  Compare the "elegant illustration of who [Obama] is" with the lying hate-filled Donald--"that damaged, stupid man."

Sure, as it turns out Melania Trump worked in the US illegally for at least a little while, but the hypocrisy of dissing other immigrants whose illegal jobs aren't high priced modeling pales in comparison to the disease that is Donald.

By the way, I have no idea why this Newsweek cover story isn't a Thing:

Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Today in Your FBI/KGB/Secret Police (and various Courts)

The FBI, exposed today (in the Guardian, Slate, Politico, Daily Beast etc.) as an armed investigative force eager to make sure it will soon take orders from President Trump, has its hands full...investigating attempts to steal the election from Hillary Clinton.  Wonder how that will go.

Reuters reports that the FBI is examining fake documents meant to discredit the Clinton campaign, possibly created by Russian agents.  David Corn at Mother Jones reports that the Democratic National Committee told the FBI that it found evidence their headquarters was bugged.

The FBI did not comment.  Come on, it's an ongoing investigation!

The FBI wasn't too busy for someone inside it to start a rumor--picked up by Trump and Faux News--that a Hillary indictment was imminent.  It wasn't.  But the correction came after the story had begun to spread.

Late in the day, a story broke of intelligence suggesting a terrorist attack  may be planned for the US on Monday with the purpose of disrupting the election.  The FBI is among the agencies tasked with investigating this, assuming it can spare the time from trying to get Trump elected.

There are other stories around that the Russians are still trying to disrupt the election.  The White House announced it is preparing to protect and counteract Russian cyber attacks.  Off the record, somebody is suggesting just how drastic such countermeasures might be.

Politicos were wondering if this Friday would bring some campaign-altering news, as last Friday did.  Well, sort of, in a slow way.  Two aides to Gov Chris Christie, Trump's transition czar, were found guilty of conspiring to create a dangerous traffic jam for political vengeance: Bridgegate.  Clinton campaign chair John Podesta immediately called for Trump to fire Christie.  It's pretty clear Christie has been lying about this.

Whether this story will play out over the weekend is an open question.  Some say yes, or at least it should. Jonathan Chiat says it should, but it won't: Because it won’t have any impact on Republicans, it’s not a campaign-changing event, and ergo merely a second-rank news story. 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 follows that if you are the champion of the Republican side, provided you have demonstrated your team loyalty, you can do or say anything whatsoever. You can be facing trial for massive fraud, you can have a crook promising a crooked governing scheme, and still be the candidate of good government. Good government, by definition, is Trump."

Elsewhere, in voter suppression court, Dems had a better day.  A federal judge ordered that several thousand voters purged from registration rolls in North Carolina be restoredU.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.  At a hearing Wednesday in Winston-Salem, Biggs called the challenge process "insane," according to local news reports.

Voting rights advocates also won cases in Kansas and Arizona.  That's the voter suppression news.  In voter intimidation news, in Ohio:

A U.S. judge in Ohio ordered Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign on Friday not to intimidate voters as voting-rights advocates scored a string of last-minute victories in several politically competitive states.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin creates the possibility of fines or jail time for Trump allies who harass voters, a significant victory for Democrats who had worried the real-estate mogul was encouraging supporters to cause mayhem at the polls on Nov. 8.

The ruling also deals a blow to a Trump-aligned "exit poll" that seeks to mobilize thousands of supporters.  The Trump campaign appealed the decision."

The Donald Chronicles: It Can Happen Here

It's Friday morning before election day.  I took a look back at what I was blogging about on the weekend before the 2012 election.  Voter suppression was a big worry.  But by Monday I was also noting what looked like movement over the weekend towards President Obama.

It's true that President Obama was leading by a slim margin in the polls, and that he won more electoral votes that Tuesday than anyone had predicted, outside his own campaign.  Right now the Clinton campaign seems confident, but then, suddenly the Trump campaign has gotten enough of a sense of movement their way that they've actually gotten serious.

Trump is staying on message, and out of the headlines.  He's got TV ads in swing states.  He's employed a British marketing company to target voters.  Suddenly he has surrogates, as Republicans with the taste of blood in their mouths come out for the candidate they didn't want to be caught dead with last week.

The truism of this campaign is that the candidate people are paying attention to is losing.  Comey turned the attention back on Clinton--superficial, negative attention, that is.

So there's a definite level of discomfort as nothing in the news is catching hold, and it's a silent, anxious slog to Tuesday, with Trump seemingly having the momentum.

This reasonably scares the hell out of people.  Not just that Trump might win, which would literally be the end of the world (as soon as he tears apart the Paris climate treaty, if he doesn't nuke somebody first), but that it will be close, and all the forces that seem to be gathering for an angry confrontation are loosed.

That means possible violence on and after election day.  It means today's Republican Party--so changed and extreme that even G.W. Bush and his people don't recognize it--feels confirmed and justified in its scorched earth tactics that things will end up, at best, in ungoverning gridlock.

Now we have the new spectre of a politicized FBI. There are several stories about this today, the most graphic of which is the Guardian's:'The FBI is Trumpland': anti-Clinton atmosphere spurred leaking, sources say: Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election."

So if Trump wasn't enough of a nightmare, it turns out when he goes to create his police state, he's got it already.  That the federal police acting as an independent entity has done more effectively what Russia tried to do in skewing this election--that's the most frightening revelation of this campaign, next to Trump himself.

What's rattling those who feel compelled to write about this today is the silence that has fallen over the walking apocalypse called Donald Trump.  It's if the country has gotten Trump amnesia. Or maybe it's just Trump fatigue.  What counts as unhinged at this point? Amy Davidson asks herself in the New Yorker.  He certainly is lying just as outrageously, plus making sexist suggestions that the military doesn't want to be bossed by a woman.

 But clearly the revelations of Trump's ignorance (the debates) and moral depravity (did that 12th woman accuser even get a headline?) peaked too soon.  Or so it seems... But there are a lot of complaints that some dangerous tendencies--as well as Trump's own volleys of lies--have gotten too normal to notice.

There's the theory that people don't really change their minds this close to the election.  But there are also recent cases in which pollsters detected a swing one way or the other on the last weekend.  I would like to think that American democracy is not so fragile as to depend on this weekend's headlines.  But it might.

If there is panic in the air this morning, it's being led by the editorial boards of the New York Times and Washington Post.

The New York Times:

Donald Trump and other embattled Republican candidates are resorting to a particularly bizarre and dangerous tactic in the closing days of the campaign — warning that they may well seek to impeach Hillary Clinton if she wins, or, short of that, tie her up with endless investigations and other delaying tactics.

Of all the arguments advanced by the Trump forces, this has to be among the most preposterous. In effect, what they’re saying is, Mrs. Clinton won’t be able to govern, because we won’t let her. So don’t waste your vote on her. Vote for us...

The tactic is a rejection of the nation’s need of a functioning government and a tacit concession that Mr. Trump may be losing and that he can be saved only by more scare tactics. Other Republican candidates in tight races have picked up this theme. The G.O.P. phrase du jour is “constitutional crisis,” depicting a hog-tied executive and a Republican Congress obsessed with perpetuating their demonization of Mrs. Clinton."

While it may be evidence that the Trumpers are behind, it seems the Comey letter revived Republican leaders enough to rally around Trump and make the threat explicit to deny President Clinton the ability to govern.

Paul Waldman writes in the Washington Post, in a piece called Republicans are now vowing Total War. And the consequences could be immense.:

The election is just five days away, and something truly frightening is happening, something with far-reaching implications for the immediate future of American politics. Republicans, led by Donald Trump but by no means limited to him, are engaging in kind of termite-level assault on American democracy, one that looks on the surface as though it’s just aimed at Hillary Clinton, but in fact is undermining our entire system."

Trump is not the only guilty party.  The Washington Post editorial board: "WHEN THE republic was in danger, where did you stand? History will ask that question of Republican leaders who knew that Donald Trump was unfit to be commander in chief."

These sentiments would seem to apply both if Trump loses or if he wins.  But if he wins, history will have to wait.  They'll be too busy enabling the Trump dictatorship.

Paul Krugman at the NYTimes explains it as blindered thinking, or perhaps it's just thinking for them that pays you:

As far as anyone can tell, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House — and the leader of what’s left of the Republican establishment — isn’t racist or authoritarian. He is, however, doing all he can to make a racist authoritarian the most powerful man in the world. Why? Because then he could privatize Medicare and slash taxes on the wealthy.

And that, in brief, tells you what has happened to the Republican Party, and to America."

Trump truly has revealed what the R party has become.  As Jonathan Chiat observed in his Final Answer: Trump or the Republic column: However low my opinion of the Republican Party, it was not low enough. Mostly they have shuffled along or beavered away on Trump’s behalf as though everything is normal."

On the Bright Side
Put this together with signs that Latino voting is heavier--in some places, much heavier--so far than 2012.  And it tells you why the Clintons and Obamas are ending the campaign together in PA.

BUZZ -- TUESDAY: AN EARLY NIGHT? -- Here’s one theory bouncing around the reporter and political campaign consultant world: Despite the recent tightening of the race, election night could be super boring. If Nevada political guru Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) is right -- and he usually is -- Hillary Clinton has all but won that state. If she takes Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia -- all states where she seems to have a lead, or is building one through early voting -- Donald Trump can win Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire and still lose.
PLUS, if you believe Steve Schale (@steveschale), one of the top Democratic consultants in Florida, he says Democrats are doing well: They have built a 161,000 vote margin in Broward County, and 170,000 more Hispanics voted early as of yesterday than voted early in the entire 2012 election. Schale says 70 percent of the Florida vote will be in by Sunday.
KEY LINE from Alex Burns and JMart’s A1 story: “Robby Mook, told donors on a conference call Thursday that the campaign expected to win Florida and North Carolina in large part because of Hispanic turnout. In Nevada, a third diverse battleground state, Mr. Mook said he no longer saw a path for Mr. Trump to win there.”

Thursday, November 03, 2016

There is a sunny side, isn't there?

Five--count 'em--five days to E Day.  Hang in there with this even-tempo contemporary take by Diana Krall on piano and wonderful vocal.

Looking at the (Political) Sunny Side

Enough for awhile with accentuating the negative.  Let's look at the sunny side of the street.  (Don't know why I thought of that old tune.)

The NYTimes has an overview that emphasizes Hillary's strength in western and upper southern states formerly red, due to Trump "waking the sleeping giant" of Latinos and other groups.  Dems are "strongly confident" they'll win Colorado, Nevada and Virginia, and believe North Carolina "is likely to break for them as well."

Hillary's rally in Tempe, Arizona attracted 15,000 in a state that has previously gone R.  According to the Times, this was no feint to get the Trump campaign's attention--it's seems enough in reach that there's a big push, with spending behind it on the ground.

The Guardian analysis is similar to most others--Trump needs to run the table of contested red and purple states plus add a big blue one, like PA or Michigan, and he's still behind in both, plus he's currently behind in North Carolina, way behind in VA, only slightly ahead in Georgia, and polls are all over the place on Florida, but he's not at all assured of that.  He also needs Iowa and Ohio, and he needs to keep Arizona.

FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 67% chance of being elected.  The NYTimes Upshot puts it at 87%.  The HuffPost model says 98%.

 Nobody sees an electoral college win for the Donald, although Silver is about alone in seeing a path.  Moreover, at least one analyst sees that the 2% undecideds and 9% uncertains split about evenly in their leanings.

A Politico study suggests as well that there aren't a lot of voters who are secretly for Trump but don't say so to pollsters.

The most important remaining factor now, as Politico and others say, is turnout.  The danger of the Comey business was that it would depress Dem turnout.  Early voting has not reflected that.  Even in the past couple of days, its accelerated in North Carolina as more polling places open, notably among black voters.

Early voting, which these guys say is good predictor, continues to favor the Dem.
YouGuv has a polling model which has given much more consistent results than other polls, which they believe is because most of the variation is statistical noise, which they claim turned out to be the case in 2012.  Anyway, they've got Hillary up 3-5 points.

There are some big national polls to come before election day.  There's no telling whether the Reuters/Ipso is an indicator, but it finds Hillary 6 points ahead--after dropping slightly it returned to the same margin as last week, pre-Comey.

And here's the thing.  It is more likely that Dems will have a great night on November 8 than they will have a really bad one.  Despite all the noise, a Hillary landslide with a Senate majority and yes, even the House, is still possible. Maybe less likely than a week ago, but still possible. A lot depends on turnout, and though the Rs are more enthused than they were a week ago, the Clinton campaign has far and away a better plan and better ability to execute that plan to turn out its voters.  And once again, the Obamas.

But the best news for Clinton--the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, for the first time in 108 years. (That's Hillary responding to the Moment, backstage while campaigning in Arizona.)

Canada Correctives

Can't let too much more time go by without passing on a link recommended by our Canadian Bureau.  It's an article in the Guardian that counts all the ways that Canada is not a progressive paradise, written, as only it could be, by a Canadian.

All good points and I'll add one of my own.  After watching some of After the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio's climate crisis documentary for the National Geographic Channel (available for free viewing there and on YouTube) and actually seeing what the tar sands mining looks like after it kills huge forests, it's criminal on a mind-boggling, heart-rending and frankly sickening scale.  

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Donald Chronicles Extra: Mississippi Burning and More GOP Evil

The mayor of a Mississippi town where a black church was torched and vandalized with the words "Vote Trump" said Wednesday that the incident is being "investigated as a hate crime."

Calling the burning of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville a "hateful and cowardly act," Mayor Errick Simmons said this was "an attack on the black community."  "It appears to be a race crime," Simmons said. "It happened in the '50s. It happened in the '60s. It shouldn't happen in 2016."

Raw Story:
An election worker in Plano, Texas was reportedly injured by box cutter blades that were hidden in a Trump-Pence campaign sign.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the sign was found zip-tied to an official polling site sign at 2800 East Spring Creek Parkway at Collin College.

According to KTVT, the sign was placed where the suspect knew that poll workers would have to remove it. And after a precinct official ordered the sign taken down, a volunteer was sliced open by the hidden box cutter blades. The blades drew blood but luckily the cuts were not serious.


A federal judge Tuesday ordered representatives from the Donald Trump campaign and the Nevada Republican Party to appear at a hearing in his courtroom Wednesday afternoon in a lawsuit filed by Nevada Democrats accusing them of the engaging in voter intimidation tactics.

U.S. District Judge Richard Franklin Boulware also ordered the Trump campaign and state party to turn over any training materials they provided to "poll watchers, poll observers, exit pollsters or any other similarly tasked individuals."

Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website “the Right Stuff” are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city’s “ghetto” on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either “informally” or, they say, through the Trump campaign.

The Oath Keepers, a group of former law enforcement and military members that often shows up in public heavily armed, is advising members to go undercover and conduct “intelligence-gathering” at polling places, and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is organizing his own exit polling, aiming to monitor thousands of precincts across the country.

As the most divisive presidential election in recent memory nears its conclusion, some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton.  They say they won't fire the first shot, but they're not planning to leave their guns at home, either.

Daily Beast:
An Oklahoma elected official appeared to call for Hillary Clinton’s execution in a Facebook post. “2 words … firing squad,” Republican State Rep. John Bennett wrote, captioning a blog post blaming the former secretary of state for the deaths of four American officials in the 2012 Benghazi attack.

Why should extremist crazies be lumped together with the GOP?  Because by and large they are the GOP.  Because GOP lawmakers are just as extreme: threatening endless investigations and attempt at impeachment; endless gridlock and refusing to consent to a Supreme Court appointment should Hillary be elected and they maintain congressional control.

Because Trump is reflected in his extremist crazy supporters, and so-called mainstream Republicans are actually supporting him for the office for which they know he is morally unfit, utterly unqualified and downright dangerous: Ted Cruz, Rubio,  House Speaker Paul Ryan and now Senate leader (and the very definition of a partisan snake) Mitch McConnell.

President Obama today on NC GOPer Senator Burr: "Last week he actually joked about violence against Hillary. That’s not something we do. That’s not something -- I tell you, if I heard a Democrat saying that, I would condemn them in a hot second. You don’t talk about violence against public officials, even in a joke.   And you know, I want to acknowledge he apologized. But the problem is this is becoming normal. This is sort of the red meat they’re throwing their audiences. And it’s not normal."

But if Trump and Burr and other GOPers get enough votes, it will be "normal."  That's the country people are voting for, or against.

The Donald Chronicles: The Fate of the World is Teetering

Today we have an exclusive guest columnist, President Barack Obama.  Well, exclusive in the sense that he's the only guest columnist here today.  This is a speech he gave Wednesday in North Carolina, with excerpts below.  It reminds me of a number I can't shake.  More than two-thirds of people surveyed say that Trump is not qualified to be President.

"So I hate to put a little pressure on you, but the fate of the Republic rests on your shoulders. (Laughter.) The fate of the world is teetering, and you, North Carolina, are going to have to make sure that we push it in the right direction...

But I want you to push away the noise for a second and just focus on the choice you face in this election -- because the truth is, the choice, if we put aside all the noise, all the distractions, all the hype, all the nonsense -- if you push all that away, this choice actually could not be simpler, it could not be clearer. It really couldn’t...

This choice actually is pretty clear, because the guy that the Republicans nominated -- even though a bunch of them knew they shouldn’t nominate him -- the guy they nominated who many of the Republicans he is running against said was a con-artist and a know-nothing and wasn’t qualified to hold this office -- this guy is temperamentally unfit to be Commander in Chief and he is not equipped to be President. (Applause.)

And this should not be a controversial claim. It really shouldn’t. I mean, it’s strange how, over time, what is crazy gets normalized and we just kind of assume, well, you know what, he said a hundred crazy things, so the hundred-and-first thing we just don’t even notice...

He says he'll be his own foreign policy advisor. He says he can do that because he has a "good brain." Now, that is contestable. (Laughter.) But what I can tell you is, we can't afford a President who suggests that America should torture people, or that we should ban entire religions from our country. (Applause.) We deserve better than a Commander-in-Chief who insults POWs, or attacks a Gold Star mom, or denigrates our troops...

We have to stop thinking that his behavior is normal, that it’s within the bound of what has, up until this point, been our normal political discourse. And you hear some folks now justifying it and making excuses. You hear some Republicans who -- they know he’s not qualified but they say, well, you know what, character doesn't matter and knowing the issues doesn’t matter and policy doesn’t matter so long as he supports Republican agenda.

But I have to tell you -- this office, it’s about who you are and what you are, and it doesn't change after you occupy the office. It just magnifies it. If you disrespect women before you are elected President, you will disrespect women when you’re in office. (Applause.) If you accept the support of Klan sympathizers -- the Klan -- and hesitate when asked about that support -- then you'll tolerate that support when you’re in office. If you disrespect the Constitution before you’re elected President, and you threaten to shut down the press when it writes stories about you that you don’t like, or you threaten to throw your opponent in jail without any due process, or you discriminate against people of different faiths, then imagine what you'll do when you actually have the power to violate the Constitution along those lines...

And guess what, North Carolina -- the good news is, all of you are uniquely qualified to make sure this guy who is uniquely unqualified does not become President. You just got to vote. You just got to vote."

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Doubling Down on Double Standards

Hillary Clinton is running against Trump and the Republican party.  She's running against Russian spies and thieves, Wikileaks and the media that enable them.  Now it's pretty clear that she's also running against the FBI.

Maybe there are excuses, though no good reasons, for why James Comey sent his enigmatic letter that made no accusation or indictment, but was easily interpreted by lying brain-farting Republicans as practically a guilty verdict.  (Though of what they don't bother to say.)  That decision was greeted by a chorus of horror from past AGs and legal aides to various Presidents, from both parties.

And maybe there is some internal evidence that prevented Comey from joining with other security agencies in naming the Russians as state actors behind the theft of private emails and their publication by the now shamelessly partisan Wikileaks.

But the use of a long dormant Twitter account to post documents about a decades-dead case involving Bill Clinton is as about a blatant a use of state investigative power to influence an election as this country has ever seen.

There is nothing more chilling to the democratic process than a federal police agency taking sides in an election.  The FBI is defending itself as merely stupid.  But fooled three times is now three times too many.

WPost quotes: “Americans now look at the FBI and see a political entity, not a nonpartisan entity — and that has huge ramifications for the FBI and for all of us,” said Matt Miller, former chief spokesman for the Justice Department and a Clinton supporter. “It sows disbelief in our system of government and is hugely toxic.”

President Obama is placed in an impossible position.  He probably can't fire Comey before the election.  But on November 9, he should, if for no other reason than incompetence.

President Obama is on the campaign trail in battleground states.  Without mentioning the FBI he spoke of Clinton being the victim of a double standard.

“You know, we always wanna see the new shiny object, and if you get beat up enough in this political environment that’s so toxic, after a while people start believing stuff. Hillary Clinton is consistently treated differently than just about any other candidate I see out there,” Obama said. “And as I said, some of it is she’s just been around a long time and so people kinda, they just believe whatever’s said by the other side in their systematic attacks, and it wears on people’s attitudes and over time they go, ‘Well, maybe —’ no, no, no, do not believe that stuff.”

He became specific on one reason for that double standard:

“She is a fundamentally good and decent person, knows what she’s doing and will be an outstanding president, and, by the way, I just wanna say it. To the guys out there, I wanna be honest,” he began. “You know, there’s a reason why we haven’t had a woman president before.”

“I want every man out there who’s voting to kinda look inside yourself and ask yourself, well, if you’re having problems with this stuff, how much of it is, you know, that we’re just not used to it?” he added. “When a guy’s ambitious and out in the public arena and working hard, well, that’s OK. But when a woman suddenly does it, suddenly you’re all like, ‘Well, why is she doing that?’ I’m just being honest.”

There are already signs that the global economy is already jittery about the possibility of Trump winning. Meanwhile Trump is trumpeting that he will call a special session of Congress to repeal Obamacare.  As the stock market is set to crash the next day if he wins, throwing the economy into a total tailspin by this rash act--if he could make good on it-- will bring on chaos the likes of which this nation has not seen since the Civil War.  Not even the early days of the Great Depression will measure up.

The bad news is that Republican voter suppression techniques in key states may be working: the NYTimes reports that the proportion of black voters in early voting is down significantly, due in part to state voter suppression laws.

The reasons for the decline appear to be both political and logistical, with lower voter enthusiasm and newly enacted impediments to voting at play. In North Carolina, where a federal appeals court accused Republicans of an “almost surgical” assault on black turnout and Republican-run election boards curtailed early-voting sites, black turnout is down 16 percent. White turnout, however, is up 15 percent.

The good news is the Democrats are well financed (donations are coming in at an accelerated clip) and well prepared to identify and deliver voters to the polls.  "We don't agonize, we organize," says Nancy Pelosi.  The Times story above adds: The Clinton campaign believes it can close the gap, especially in North Carolina and Florida, by Election Day. And Democrats are seeing substantial gains in turnout for other key constituencies like Hispanics and college-educated women, which have the potential to more than make up for any drop-off in black voting.

Most analysts agree that Clinton is still well positioned to win.  But voters have to be determined to defy the GOPer liars, the Russian thieves and now the FBI.  And vote for the future--not only Hillary, but for Democrats in the Senate and House.  Things are extreme now because the GOP has simply become evil. There's no other word for it.  They must be kept from creating chaos.

The stakes could hardly be higher.

On the Sunny Side of A Week

Just seven days more!  An upbeat Sunny Side with a western swing flavor by The Western Flyers--Joey McKensie, Katie Glassman and Margaret's long lost cousin Gavin Kelso.

Considering how much happened politically since Friday, it could be a long seven days, so savor the song!  More music to come.

Monday, October 31, 2016

All Hallows Eve at the White House

   Just a few more holidays to cherish with the Obamas at the White House.  These photos are from Halloween celebrations, which included kids and not-kids in costumes, and dancers in the White House.  Here Barack and Michelle are apparently leading the dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

And finally, the Best Costume: a youngster comes as...President Obama:

More photos.

The Donald Chronicles: Fighting Comeyism


Too late to get your James Comey mask, but he's the scariest character this Halloween.  The White House pointedly refused to defend his actions, especially invoking the Justice Department guidelines that even GOPers as partisan as Karl Rove say should have been followed.

Harry Reid threw gas on the fire with his letter apprising Comey of the possibility that he committed a criminal act.  And he added a charge that is throwing attention back at Trump: "in my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.”

Reid's statement seemed born out by two stories that broke Monday, described at TPM:  One of these stories is about suspicious communication between a Trump controlled email server and Russia. The second story is much more specific in its accusation. According to David Corn, who is an experienced national security and intelligence reporter, a retired spy from a western country who now works for an American security contractor has provided the FBI with evidence suggesting that "the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump." Corn further reports that this retired spy found "troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, 'there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.'"

Another story making the rounds Monday is that Comey refused to join the intelligence agencies naming of Russia as responsible for email hacking for the purpose of influencing the election--not because he didn't have evidence but because it was too political during the campaign???

Responding to this story, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook called out Comey for employing a "blatant double standard:" "That Director Comey would show more discretion in a matter concerning a foreign state action than one involving the Democratic nominee for president is nothing short of jaw-dropping."

Meanwhile, early evidence is that swing state Dem voters aren't losing their nerve and while there are some wild swings among independents/undecideds in tracking polls, it's the margin rather than the outcome that so far may be affected.

Politico finds little evidence so far that the Comey affair is changing votes, and John Cassidy at the New Yorker has an overview that suggests the Comey effect seems likely to be minimal.  The New York Times adds:

And while Mr. Trump has crowed about the 11th-hour twist to the race, the F.B.I. director’s letter about the emails has not yet produced a major shift in private polling, according to Republican and Democratic strategists with access to confidential data, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mrs. Clinton’s lead over Mr. Trump appears to have contracted modestly, but not enough to threaten her advantage over all or to make the electoral math less forbidding for Mr. Trump, Republicans and Democrats said.

Perhaps once promising red states like Georgia, Texas and Utah are gone, and Ohio and Iowa are more challenging, but a Clinton electoral college blowout is still the most likely outcome.  Similarly, the longshot of a House majority is likely gone and the Senate majority is up in the air.

The Clinton campaign senses that it's time to scare people about the Donald again, and well they should.  Honesty?  What about those tax returns?  Whose are out there and whose aren't?  The NYTimes speculates a bit more on Trump's dishonesty in tax matters.  The aforementioned Politico piece suggests that Trump's involvement with Russia might be revealed by those tax returns.

Daily Beast noted that the Times story plus two about investigations into the Trump Russian connections blunted the momentum of the email story:So this is what Trump wakes up to Tuesday. An allegation that Comey was covering for him. An allegation that the FBI is poking around his former campaign manager’s Russia relationships. And most damning of all, a specific allegation of exactly how he cheated the government he purports to want to run of hundreds of millions of dollars, through a technique that he seems to have used more brazenly than anyone.

And as Raw Story notes: Author Salman Rushdie reminded voters that Trump will stand trial later this month in a racketeering lawsuit and then again next month as part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the Republican presidential nominee raped her when she was 13 years old.

And that's just for starters: Trump University will go to trial with possible criminal charges and there's a real investigation into possible criminal activity Trump's foundation.  All of this will play out after the election.

There's still plenty scary about the Donald.  Not the least of it is the bullying and threats to the election process that are part of his every speech, and part of actions by his supporters.  The PA Democratic Party is the latest to go to court complaining that the Trump campaign is trying to intimidate urban voters. Similar suits were filed in Ohio, Arizona and Nevada. There's still the Hitler aura around Trump.

Not to mention the continuing hatred that infects the Republican party, and the careless violence invoked every day, most recently by North Carolina R Senator Richard Burr and his "joke" advocating Hillary Clinton's photo as a bull's eye on a gun magazine cover.

Raw Story continued: “He [Trump] is a sexual predator, hasn’t released his tax returns, and has used his foundation’s money to pay his legal fees,” Rushdie posted Sunday on his Facebook page. “He has abused the family of a war hero and … oh, but let’s talk about some emails Hillary didn’t send from someone else’s computer, that weren’t a crime anyway, because that’s how to choose a president. Come on, America. Focus.”

Sunday, October 30, 2016

On the Sunny Side of 10 Days Left

Hooray--just 10 days left!  Celebrating with Ella Fitzgerald from a 60s TV show.  There are some skips in the video and audio but hey--it's Ella!  With Oscar Peterson on piano.

A comment to this YouTube video mentions the rumor that Jimmy McHugh wasn't the actual composer of this song--that it's really a Fats Waller tune that he sold to McHugh for quick cash.  The evidence cited however is fairly flimsy.  There's some evidence of a Waller tune ending up as a McHugh composition, but not specifically this one.  Though the tunes of black artists winding up being copyrighted by whites was disconcertingly frequent.  Nobody disputes the Dorothy Fields lyrics, though.

The Donald Chronicles: Hysteria Amplified

Saturday saw the Clinton campaign add some edge to their demands for FBI Comey to clear things up, even as news spread that Comey had ignored Justice Department guidelines and a reportedly even a direct request from the AG in sending his letter that started all this speculation.  Experienced prosecutors are among the baffled.  A Guardian story is headlined: FBI stands guilty of an overtly political act at a crucial moment. 

Senior congressional Dems also pressed Comey to provide immediate answers: They called into question whether the FBI had “even obtained or reviewed” material from the Weiner device, implying that Comey had prioritized his political position ahead of the facts of the case. Challenging Comey to begin the fateful final full week of the election campaign with additional disclosures, the senators wrote that to do otherwise would be “irresponsible and a disservice to the American people”.

Wrote NYTimes columnist Frank Bruni: "This entire election is being conducted in the key of hysteria, and Comey just found a way to amplify that ugly music."

And there's the timing.  As Nate Silver tweeted: "The FBI story also broke at the exact time when the media was eager for a dramatic twist/complication in the "Clinton coasts" narrative."

But some hint of prosperity always brings out the worst in the Donald.  He continued making inflammatory statements and charges, not only about this tempest in a teapot (worse than Watergate indeed) but suggesting that election officials will throw away mail-in ballots "if they don't like them."

Trump's inflammatory talk about the election has already led to the first documented case of voter fraud--a woman in Iowa attempted to vote twice--for Trump, because she believed the Donald that the election is rigged and she was afraid that her vote would be changed to Clinton.

And things continue to trend ugly at Trump events, with anti-Semitic chants and other threatening behavior.  Trump saw members of his crowd upset about a black man in their midst,  then Donald accused him from the stage of being a paid protestor and encouraged security to take him out of the rally, which they did.  It soon turned out that the man was a Trump supporter.

And if the Comey enigma has added some uncertainty by motivating Trump voters (although the Clinton campaign may have more cards to play in that regard), it hasn't done anything to even begin to repair the profound damage the Republican party has inflicted on itself, as that sort of story continues to come out.

Nobody knows yet if this email story has staying power, although it clearly will be the focus of the Sunday noise shows. First reaction won't show up in polls until midweek and if Clinton's numbers go down, election day becomes more of a drama.

 Nate Silver outlined four possible Clinton campaign responses Saturday morning, and by evening it was clear that #2 was in operation as well as #1, with the possibility of #4 to come.  But how the Clinton campaign deals with this may say a lot about a Clinton presidency.  Clinton herself was up to the challenge of the debates.  Now we'll see if she, her campaign and the Dems are up to this one.