James Comey Political Cartoons

The FBI Director, James Comey, deserves some print with cartoonists.

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Poking Into Fox News’ Political Tactics

I much enjoy writers who allow insight into the media.  Among the few at the top of my list of such people is Emily Nussbaum, the television critic for The New Yorker. I love the way she makes a point. This week she tackles Fox News.  I mean FAUX News.

Ostensibly, there are two Fox divisions: news journalists, who ask follow-up questions and include diverse guests; and pure ideologues, like the mad king Hannity. For a newbie, the border can seem awfully porous, since everyone uses the desk, the glasses, the head tilt—the ancient theatre of TV authority. In the aftermath of the third debate, these two types were united in genuine pride at the well-reviewed performance of Chris Wallace, the first Fox anchor to moderate a Presidential debate. Megyn Kelly kvelled that it was a “Fox News fair-and-balanced debate, for our critics,” adding, “You should really tick off both sides—then you know you’re doing well.” On Mediabuzz, Wallace called his selection a statement by “the Commission on Presidential Debates—a blue-ribbon panel—that they thought that Fox was a legitimate news organization, that I was a legitimate journalist.  

It is impossible not to feel empathy for Wallace—and, in fact, his show does come closest to that model, with research-based questions and an air of healthy skepticism. But, as Hannity argues, shows like his pay the bills. And watching Hannity and O’Reilly feels like being trapped in a sauna with a bunch of alter kockers smoking cigars, as Rudy Giuliani shouts for ever hotter applications of steam. Hannity’s buddies (primarily men, though Laura Ingraham stops by occasionally) resolutely insist that Trump has crushed every debate; he won’t ever have to concede, they say, because he’s definitely, certainly winning. There is no breaking into this mutually consoling bubble world, fuelled by imaginary polls.

O’Reilly is a stranger and sloppier force—and, of late, he’s started tiptoeing away from Trump, with an arrogant-uncle “I never said that!” bluster. Someone has clearly trolled the host by telling him that he looks good against neon blue. Half the screen is covered by maroon-and-purple stripes, and, often, a neon-yellow “alert” scrolls across the right-hand corner, unconnected to any news.

Amid this cacophony, Geraldo Rivera was recently the voice of reason. When O’Reilly’s other guests crowed that Hillary was universally loathed, that Trump would win a “tight race,” Rivera gingerly suggested that female voters might be swayed by the “Access Hollywood” tapes. O’Reilly and Eric Bolling, a host of Fox’s “The Five,” shouted him down, calling it “this salacious business.” Later, Lou Dobbs arrived. “The ‘rigged’ thing is one of the brightest things that he could’ve done,” Dobbs insisted, calling Trump’s refusal to say that he would concede if he lost “an absolute stroke of genius.” At first, Trump’s reply at the debate had seemed shocking, even on Fox. By the end of the week, it was normalized, a mere matter of strategy—would it win votes?

What Do The Chicago Cubs And Donald Trump Have In Common?

Both FiveThirtyEight’s models and betting markets give Trump about a 1 in 4 chance of winning the election, about the same chance as the Chicago Cubs have of winning the World Series.

Political Cake Baked For Presidential Election

The countdown clock on my blog reads eight days until Election Day—as if we are not aware of the number of days every morning when we awake.  With the news about the Hillary Clinton emails and the FBI investigation topping each network broadcast leaves many to wonder where we are headed come next Tuesday.

I have stressed over and over on this blog–even after the most bizarre episodes in this election cycle–that the rules of the road still apply.  Even though the Clinton campaign has hit  a rocky path there is now no reason to not state it again.

There is a built-in result to this election given the extreme partisan make-up of the electorate. That means the news from this past weekend will not move large blocs of votes.  Some 20 million ballots have already been cast—and the Democratic GOTV efforts have shown why those operations are vital and how the demographics of the early vote show women are casting ballots heavier than men in those areas where Clinton needs it to happen–as just one example.

There is always an October Surprise, and while it is unsettling I honestly contend that it will not dramatically upset the state of the race for president.  There are, however, likely to be down-ballot problems for Democrats in some states as a result of the FBI investigation.  While there is a clear path for 270 electoral votes nationally there might be less room now, for example, to defeat GOP Senator Blount in Missouri.

The rules of the road I have spoken about all year have in part dealt with the massive structural advantage Democrats have with the Clinton campaign.  They have put in place a top-notch and experienced in-the-field network along with a voter data program second to none.  It may be true that Republicans have an enthusiastic base of supporters, but there are a tremendous number of anti-Trump voters who will walk on nails to cast a ballot to stop that dangerous man from being elected.  It needs also to be stated that Trump and the GOP have not been able to broaden their appeal far outside the angry white male base that has propelled his candidacy.

Polls are tightening largely as Republican voters “come home.” Also let us not forget that reflection in the polls is not unusual for a presidential race at this point.

I have followed politics closely for decades and the rules of the road always apply.  Looking at the voting base that will not depart from Clinton along with her path that is very much aimed for 270 electoral college votes leads me to one conclusion.

The presidential cake is baked and done.

We just need to count down the days.

FBI Director James Comey Has Questions To Answer

There is a most troubling aspect to the last several days in this country which places the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the middle of a political campaign and thereby undermines the faith our nation needs to have with this most valued institution.  Regardless of the political party we call home the importance of having an objective FBI is essential.

Therefore I was heartened last evening after coming home from a Halloween Party (James and I went as the theme to PBS’ much-loved Indian Summers) to learn former federal prosecutors and high-ranking Department of Justice officials, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, penned an open letter criticizing FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the latest development in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The letter pointed out that the move by Comey was an unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry–and to do so just eleven days before a presidential election.  This matter not only left the ones who penned their name to the letter, but the rest of the nation too, both astonished and perplexed.

The authors of the letter said they were “moved” to speak out publicly because Comey’s action violated “settled” DOJ tenets. Justice Department officials are instructed to refrain from commenting publicly on pending investigations except in “exceptional circumstances,” as well as to “exercise heightened restraint near the time of a primary or general election,” said the letter.

I think any objective and fair citizen would say what transpired on Friday did not meet those tests.

It is most important for Comey to address the larger questions being asked by law-enforcement professionals and the average citizen alike.  We have seen many strange and odd twists and turns over the past 18 months.   The voters are use to political shenanigans and take them in stride.  But to have FBI Director Comey remove the faith and credibility of his agency for some motive that is a mystery to the nation is something voters should not be forced to accept.

Where We Stand Over Latest Email Mess

Update to the update…(at some point I will just start a new post)…The Justice Department has obtained a warrant that will allow it to begin searching the computer that is believed to contain thousands of newly-discovered emails of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, two law enforcement sources confirmed to CNN.

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I need to update this post with what we now know from the news mid-afternoon—Justice Department officials have not yet approached lawyers for Clinton’s top aide.  

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So let me set the stage as to what is happening now when it comes to the mess created by Hillary Clinton not using a secure government server during her time as Secretary of State.  If I sound bitchy it is because that is how every Democrat should feel this morning.

Nine days to go to the election and because the Clintons feel there are two sets of rules in the world we now face down-ballot concerns due to her obvious short-sightedness with the server.  While I think the path to 270 electoral votes are lock solid for Clinton and I remain a stuanch supporter, the harm this news in the final week will do to some senate and congressional candidates can not be overstated.

Having said  that I also want to place huge question marks over the action of the FBI who traditionally do not make waves 60 days prior to an election so not to politicize the process of law enforcement.   As of Saturday night the FBI had still not gotten approval from the Justice Department for a warrant that would allow them to read any of the newly discovered Abedin emails.  In the end the emails may be such that the FBI has already seen them and not found them to be worthy of a finding of criminal conduct, or they may not even be relevant to the FBI investigation at all.  No one simply knows.

If the FBI has not even obtained permission to look at these emails, that means that Director Comey sent his letter without at all knowing what’s in them.  What we do know is that top Justice Department officials were described as ‘apoplectic’ over the letter sent to Congress Friday by FBI Director Comey.  It was without precedent.

But one needs to state again none of this would he happening if Clinton had conducted herself more appropriately regarding the server when she was Secretary.

This morning we know the Justice Department and the FBI are in discussions with lawyers for Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to secure approval that would allow the FBI to conduct a full search of her newly discovered emails.  We also know there are thousands of emails on the computer.   Why this new search warrant is needed is because the existing authorization, covered by a subpoena, related only to the ongoing investigation of Weiner, who is accused of having sexually explicit communications with an underage girl.

And so it goes.

Nearly 1/2 The Total 2012 Vote Already Cast In North Carolina

This fact does boggle my mind.  The key is the number of women voters.

cwbqvoeuaaedxed

 

The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit

grayflannel

This book was bought for a penny on Amazon……no joke.

I read this best-seller from the 1950’s for several reasons. It took my mind off the current news of the day (Lord, I need a break) and placed me in the years when it was scandalous for a book to tell a story (in part) about a WW II vet having fathered a child overseas.   What makes for controversy is a moving current.

The corporate mindset of the 50’s with consensus thinking is well presented.  The main character does not want to climb the business ladder in a fashion which will not allow time for family, friends, and free time.  It makes for an important reminder about what really matters in life.

The book overall makes for a social study of the era.   In fact, I read about Sloan Wilson’s book in a narrative about the mid-20th century.  The book was used as a great example of how to understand the generation raised in the depression and then a product of a world war.

I must caution, however, the book plots like one from the 50’s but the story and themes are just as timely–perhaps more so today–than when first penned.