November 2018 News Updates

 JIPLogoEditor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative September 2018 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this. 

Nov. 15

Trump Rants Against Prosecutors

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump blasts Mueller probe a week after installing new acting attorney general, John Wagner, Nov. 15, 2018. President Trump on Thursday lashed out anew at the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, calling his team of lawyers “a disgrace to our NationNation” and accusing them, without evidence, of threatening witnesses to get answers they want.

matthew whitaker headshot recentTrump’s rant, in a pair of morning tweets, came a week after the installation of Matthew G. Whitaker, right, as acting attorney general, a move many Democrats have said appears designed to curtail Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.

Trump angrily dismissed a reporter’s question about that notion last week and said he had not spoken to Whitaker about the Russia probe before naming him to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of Trump’s complaints in Thursday’s tweets were familiar, but they took on heightened significance with Whitaker now overseeing Mueller’s probe, which is also examining whether Trump has obstructed justice.

Facebook's Sellout of Customers?

ny times logoNew York Times, Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis, Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore, Cecilia Kang, Matthew Rosenberg and Jack Nicas, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). In just over a decade, Facebook has connected more than 2.2 billion people, a global nation unto itself that reshaped political campaigns, the advertising business and daily life around the world. Along the way, Facebook accumulated one of the largest-ever repositories of personal data, a treasure trove of photos, messages and likes facebook logothat propelled the company into the Fortune 500.

But as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Facebook Wrestled With Scandal: 6 Key Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation, Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). For more than a year, Facebook has endured cascading crises — over Russian misinformation, data privacy and abusive content — that transformed the Silicon Valley icon into an embattled giant accused of corporate overreach and negligence.

facebook logoAn investigation by The New York Times revealed how Facebook fought back against its critics: with delays, denials and a full-bore campaign in Washington. Here are six takeaways.

Facebook knew about Russian interference. In fall 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, was publicly declaring it a “crazy idea” that his company had played a role in deciding the election. But security experts at the company already knew otherwise.

They found signs as early as spring 2016 that Russian hackers were poking around the Facebook accounts of people linked to American presidential campaigns. Months later, they saw Russian-controlled accounts sharing information from hacked Democratic emails with reporters. Facebook accumulated evidence of Russian activity for over a year before executives opted to share what they knew with the public — and even their own board of directors.

Saudis Charge Scapegoats?

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for five suspects in killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Kareem Fahim​, Nov. 15, 2018. Saudi Arabia said Thursday it has indicted 11 people in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month and that it is seeking the death penalty against five of them for ordering and committing the killing, according to the country’s public prosecutor.

Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement that the former deputy head of intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri, had dispatched a Saudi team to Turkey to negotiate Khashoggi’s return to Saudi mohammed bin salman al saudArabia. The order to kill the journalist came from the head of the Saudi team in Istanbul, the prosecutor added.

Officials in several countries have said it is unlikely Khashoggi could have been killed without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader. But no definitive evidence has emerged showing that Mohammed ordered the operation. Saudi officials deny that the crown prince was in any way responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

2018 Elections:

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Florida to allow more time to clear up disputed signatures on some ballots, Sean Sullivan and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 15, 2018.Florida’s historic recount was thrown once more into uncertainty Thursday when a federal judge ruled that voters whose mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected because of issues with their signatures will have two more days to resolve the problems and possibly have their votes counted.

rick scott blue shirt fileThe decision by Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee came just hours ahead of the Thursday afternoon deadline for elections officials to complete a machine recount. It is particularly notable in the too-close-to-call Senate race, in which Gov. Rick Scott (R), left, leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by fewer than 13,000 votes.

Walker’s decision affects Floridians who cast their ballots by mail, or voted provisionally, but whose signatures did not match records maintained by state officials. More than 4,000 ballots across 45 counties in Florida were set aside because of inconsistent signatures, he wrote in his opinion. In the other 22 counties, the number is unknown.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The real fraudster in Florida is Mitch McConnell, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). In Palm Beach, the elections supervisor said its outdated dana milbank Customequipment overheated, causing figures to not add up as it attempts to meet the recount deadline of Thursday. Equipment problems in Broward also delayed the recount.

There is deep cynicism in Republicans complaining about the lengthy recounts and, worse, suggesting fraud is the cause: They voted down funds for updated voting equipment for states. Senate Republicans on Aug. 1 blocked Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s (D-Vt.) plan to send $250 million to states for cybersecurity and “replacing outdated election equipment.” A few weeks later, the bipartisan Secure Elections Act stalled in the Senate, in part because “we didn’t have the level of Republican support we needed."

Florida Voter Suppression?

ny times logoNew York Times, Sloppy Signatures May Disqualify Thousands of Florida Votes, Glenn Thrush, Audra D. S. Burch and Frances Robles, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). Ballots were rejected because voters’ signatures did not match what was on file, which Democrats argued was disenfranchisement. The issue emerged as a central point of contention in the Florida recounts and touched on constitutional questions of equal protection and free speech.

The nuns at Zina Rodriguez’s Catholic school in the Bronx thwacked her knuckles to punish sloppy handwriting, so she was shocked when her mail-in ballot in Florida was rejected because her signature did not match the one on record with elections officials.

Ms. Rodriguez, a registered Democrat, found the rejection notice in her mailbox at 7 p.m. the night before the Nov. 6 election, two hours after the deadline for appeal had passed. When she protested at the Palm Beach County Board of Elections the next morning, she learned that the culprit was a driver’s license signature, hastily squiggled on an electronic signature pad two years earlier.

“There were 13 amendments on that ballot. The only reason I chose to write in was because I wanted time to research all the questions. I was fulfilling my responsibility,” said Ms. Rodriguez, 47, a behavioral health care consultant from Lake Worth, Fla. “All of that got thrown away because I wanted to get out of the D.M.V. office as fast as I can. It is incredibly upsetting.”

The issue of faulty signatures, especially on mail-in ballots, has emerged as a central point of contention in the county-by-county recounts taking place in Florida, with lawsuits spinning off the 2018 election like tornadoes off a hurricane.

bill nelsonLawyers for Senator Bill Nelson, left, a Democrat who in his bid for re-election is running slightly behind Gov. Rick Scott, his Republican challenger, were in federal court in Tallahassee on Wednesday arguing that the ballots of traditionally Democratic voters — minorities and especially young people — were more likely to be thrown out because of signature variations than those of other voters.

At least 5,000 ballots from all voters — and perhaps twice that many — were left uncounted across Florida as a result of signature mismatches, according to various estimates from the Florida secretary of state and analysts examining the latest data. Before the recounts began over the weekend, Mr. Nelson was behind by 12,562 votes.

The signature battle touches on constitutional questions of equal protection and free speech. But it is rooted in larger societal trends that are rapidly rendering an individual’s handwriting an unreliable electoral hallmark.

Inside DC

washington post logonancy pelosi oWashington Post, Pelosi faces daunting challenge in speaker’s bid as Democratic foes stand firm, Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). In an electoral year marked by a record number of women joining the House, incoming female Democrats may help decide Nancy Pelosi’s fate.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, right, on Wednesday faced solid opposition from at least 17 Democrats and encountered a significant bloc of undecided women in her bid for speaker, setting the stage for an intense battle over who will ascend to one of the most powerful positions in Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Veterans aren’t getting their GI Bill payments — because a 50-year-old computer system broke, Alex Horton​, Nov. 15, 2018. Thousands of veterans have been put under financial strain after the Department of Veterans Affairs' computer systems buckled under complex new rules.

washington post logobetsy devos oWashington Post, Betsy DeVos set to bolster rights of accused in rewrite of sexual assault rules, Laura Meckler, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). Controversial regulation governing campus investigations set for release in coming days.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, is set to release a sweeping overhaul of how colleges and universities must handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment, giving new rights to the accused, including the ability to cross-examine their accusers, people familiar with the matter said.

The proposal is set for release before Thanksgiving, possibly this week, and replaces less formal guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011. The new rules would reduce liability for universities, tighten the definition of sexual harassment, and allow schools to use a higher standard in evaluating claims of sexual harassment and assault.

UK Brexit Crisis

washington post logoWashington Post, Brexit secretary, other ministers resign in a stinging setback for Theresa May, William Booth and Karla Adam​, Nov. 15, 2018. Dominic Raab, the minister in charge of helping Britain leave the European Union, said he could not support a withdrawal agreement just approved by Prime Minister May’s Cabinet. Two other ministers and a junior minister also quit their posts.

United Kingdom flagThe minister in charge of helping Britain leave the European Union, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, abruptly resigned from Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on Thursday morning, saying he could not support the withdrawal agreement approved by her cabinet the night before.

It was a stinging setback for May. Also quitting their posts were two other ministers and a junior minister in the Brexit ministry. The rapid-fire resignations sent shudders through London and E.U. headquarters in Brussels, raising the possibility that May does not have the support she needs to pursue her deal for a softer, slower-moving Brexit, a plan loaded with compromises that few in Britain like.

Crime, Courts: Child Murder?

washington post logoWashington Post, A man drove his severely autistic kids off a pier to their death. Prosecutors say he did it for the insurance money, Meagan Flynn, Nov. 15, 2018. It was April 9, 2015 and Ali Elmezayen was at the wheel. His two autistic children, ages 8 and 13, were strapped in tight in the back seat, and their mother was in the passenger’s seat — screaming for Elmezayen to hit the brakes.

But federal prosecutors said on Tuesday that Elmezayen knew exactly what he was doing that April night: They say he drove off the bridge on purpose to kill his family, and that it was all part of a scheme to collect on the millions of dollars in seven life insurance policies he had taken out on their lives. It was a plan he had been plotting for more than two years, according to prosecutors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Avenatti speaks out after his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence, Elise Viebeck and Eli Rosenberg, Nov. 15, 2018. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed the arrest of Avenatti, a Democratic lawyer whose public profile exploded this year when he sued President Trump on behalf of adult-film star Stormy Daniels. In a statement, Avenatti called the allegations “completely bogus.”

California Wildfires

california wildfire washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, California’s deadliest wildfire is also a massive air quality problem, Ben Guarino, Zara Stone and Sawsan Morrar, Nov. 15, 2018. Children, the elderly and people who spend significant time outside are particularly at risk for breathing complications.

Nov. 14


washington post logoDonald TrumpWashington Post, Five days of fury: Inside Trump’s bad Paris temper, election woes and staff upheaval, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s testy call with British Prime Minister Theresa May while en route to Paris set the tone for turbulence in the French capital and more presidential anger over the recent elections and media coverage of Trump's decision to skip a ceremony honoring the military sacrifice of World War I, officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, President refuses to acknowledge the fraught history of nationalism, Anne Gearan, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has tried to define his brand of nationalism as a form of patriotism devoid of the darker aspects his critics warn the term conjures.

Protecting Special Counsel

washington post logoWashington Post, Flake refuses to vote for Trump’s judicial nominees until the Senate acts on bill to protect Mueller, Karoun Demirjian, Nov. 14, 2018. The move could complicate Republicans’ hope of confirming dozens of conservative judges this year.

Flake’s warning will likely force Republicans — who hold 51 seats in the Senate — to rely on Vice President Pence to confirm any of the 32 judicial nominees pending before the full Senate, as Democrats have little incentive to support those who Flake has committed to oppose. Flake issued his threat after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked Flake and Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) from holding a vote on the bill, which would give any fired special counsel the ability to swiftly challenge their termination before a panel of three federal judges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Whitaker’s unusual path to Justice Department included owning day-care center, trailer maker and concrete supplier, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 14, 2018.  Whitaker stands in vivid contrast to his predecessors, whose résumés typically boast judgeships, partnerships at prestigious firms and senior roles in the Justice Department. Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, faced down her hard-line critics on Wednesday and won the support of a jittery cabinet for a plan to quit the European Union, keeping on track her push to avert an economically damaging rupture with the bloc in March.

ny times logomatthew whitaker headshot recentNew York Times, Justice Dept. Defends Legality of Trump’s Appointment of Acting Attorney General, Charlie Savage, Nov. 14, 2018. The Justice Department pushed back on Wednesday against accusations that President Trump’s appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general was illegal, arguing that it complied with both federal statutes and the Constitution — and that it fit within a history of similar designations dating back to the earliest days of the country.

The Trump administration made its case in a 20-page memorandum by Steven E. Engel, the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel. It came a day after the State of Maryland asked a Federal District Court judge to issue an injunction declaring that when Mr. Trump ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the role of acting head of the department passed instead to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, as a matter of law.

matthew whitaker weightlifting twitter

Acting U.S. Attorney Gen. Matthew Whitaker, a former college football player, features this photo across the top of his Twitter page.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Matthew Whitaker is steeped in time travel and Bigfoot. He’s the right man for the job, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). In addition to dana milbank Customhis exotic legal views and his lack of relevant experience, Matthew G. Whitaker was already known to have hawked hot-tub seats for a business that shut down this year after reaching a $26 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for defrauding customers. But that’s just the beginning of the crackpottery.

During the current U.S. attorney general’s time on the company’s advisory board, from 2014 onward, World Patent Marketing:

● Claimed that “DNA evidence collected in 2013 proves that Bigfoot does exist,” had a website selling Bigfoot paraphernalia and planned a celebrity event called “You Have Been Squatched!”

● Asserted that “time travel” could be “possible, perhaps within the next decade” and tried to raise money using bitcoin for time-travel research by one of Whitaker’s fellow board members. The company suggested users might “relive moments from your past” or “visit your future.”

● Announced, in the same media release heralding Whitaker’s appointment to the board, a patent application for an extra-deep “masculine toilet” for the well-endowed. Specifying the size of “average male genitalia,” the release said “this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that.”

Israeli Cabinet Crisis

benjamin netanyahu frownDaily Beast, Israel’s Government Is Collapsing After Accidental Gaza War and Embarrassing Truce, Noga Tarnopolsky, Nov. 14, 2018. In a surprise move, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned, thrusting the Israeli government into uncertain territory.

Lieberman kept his intentions close to his chest, surprising everyone from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to members of his own political party, who now find themselves in the parliamentary opposition.

Lieberman announced his departure from the coalition in a punchy press conference in which he accused Netanyahu of “capitulating to Hamas terror” with the truce that halted fire on the Israel-Gaza border yesterday after two days of battle. He called on Netanyahu to advance the elections that are currently scheduled for November 2019.

AMD, Israel’s Immigration Minister resigns shortly after Lieberman, Staff report, Nov. 14, 2018. Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver, a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, has announced her resignation following the decision of the party leader and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign. Landver headed the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption for over nine years. The resignation of Lieberman reduced the ruling coalition to 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Brexit Advances In UK

ny times logoUnited Kingdom flagNew York Times, U.K. Cabinet Backs Theresa May’s Brexit Plan, Stephen Castle, Nov. 14, 2018. Prime Minister Theresa May won approval of her Brexit plan from her cabinet. Now, she faces the far more difficult challenge of winning over Britain’s Parliament.

Hate Crimes

washington post logoWashington Post, Authorities arrest avowed white nationalist in D.C. who ‘fantasized about killing “Jews and blacks,” Spencer S. Hsu and Peter Hermann, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). A D.C. man who described himself as a white nationalist to law enforcement officers and became a social-media follower of the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been arrested on a gun charge after his worried relatives contacted the authorities, according to federal court filings.

Jeffrey R. Clark Jr., 30, is charged with illegally possessing a firearm and a high-capacity magazine and made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington.

jack posobiec jeffrey clark edward clark source photo

Alleged Neo-Nazi Jeffrey Clark, center with camera, and his late brother Edward follow far-right “Pizzagate” propagandist Jack Posobiec (HuffPost source photo)

Huffpost, DC Neo-Nazi Who Called Pittsburgh Murders A ‘Dry Run’ Arrested; Has Deep Ties To ‘Alt Right,’ Jessica Schulberg, Nick Baumann, Ryan J. Reilly, Travis Waldron, and Luke huff post logoO’Brien, Nov. 13, 2018. Jeffrey Clark, the 30-year-old man federal agents arrested here Friday after he called the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting a “dry run” and his relatives worried he might try to launch a race war, wasn’t shy about being a neo-Nazi.

richard spencer CustomIn April 2017, when someone asked Clark at a White House rally organized by “alt-right” coiner Richard Spencer whether he considered himself a fascist, he said no ― he considered himself a Nazi. Antifa activists photographed him at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. He has posed for pictures in front of Nazi symbols and holding Nazi memorabilia.

On Gab, the favored social network of racists and anti-Semites, Clark had the username @PureWhitEvil and called himself “DC Bowl Gang,” a reference to Dylann Roof, the bowl-cut racist who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

It wasn’t until November, after Clark’s own family contacted law enforcement, that the FBI finally found the allegedly illegal weapons that have him facing gun charges.

Court documents, as well as photos and videos obtained by HuffPost, suggest Clark’s late brother, Edward Clark, shared a similar ideology. That both men were able to spew neo-Nazi rhetoric, amass an arsenal of weapons, and openly threaten journalists and critics for months without consequence shows just how much freedom far-right extremists have to operate in the U.S. — and how far their behavior has to escalate before law enforcement takes it seriously.

Clark lived in a rowhouse in Bloomingdale with his father, sister and younger brother Edward William “Teddy” Clark, who killed himself on Washington’s Theodore Roosevelt Island on Oct. 27, the day of the Tree of Life shooting.

In May 2017, the Clark brothers teamed up with far-right “Pizzagate” propagandist Jack Posobiec, who was then the D.C. bureau chief for the far-right website Rebel Media, to shoot footage for a film Posobiec was working on about Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer whose murder near the Clarks’ home in Bloomingdale has spawned numerous far-right conspiracy theories.

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, The state of hate: Who should get to measure it? David Montgomery, Nov. 14, 2018 electronic front page. Researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center have set themselves up as the ultimate judges of hate in America. But are they judging fairly?

Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump endorses bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill, Seung Min Kim​, Nov. 14, 2018. The new Senate package includes language that lowers mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies, including reducing the "three-strike" penalty from life behind bars to 25 years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Avenatti arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, Elise Viebeck and Eli Rosenberg​, Nov. 14, 2018. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed the arrest of Avenatti, a Democratic lawyer whose public profile exploded this year when he sued President Trump on behalf of adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Avenatti did not answer his cellphone or return messages late Wednesday. It was unclear who was involved in the alleged incident

Military Used For Caravan

washington post logoWashington Post, At the border, uncertainty about the migrant caravan and military concertina wire, Dan Lamothe and Maya Averbuch, Nov. 14, 2018. The Trump administration has dispatched more than 5,900 active-duty troops to the border to buttress U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents processing asylum claims. Federal law and Pentagon policy limits the scope of what the troops can do, though the military has said they could be asked to fly CBP officers in helicopters to less secure parts of the border if the caravan attempts to enter the country there.

The first group of migrants, meanwhile, decided last week to turn west toward Tijuana and began arriving there Tuesday. They numbered a few hundred on Wednesday. They could disperse into smaller groups, but other caravan groups are still farther away in Mexico and it is unclear where they will go.

U.S. Politics

washington post logokevin mccarthyWashington Post, Kevin McCarthy is caught between #MAGA and the GOP, Jacqueline Alemany, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to be chosen as House minority leader. But will his close bond with President Trump be his greatest asset or put him at odds with his responsibilities to lead Republicans back from the wilderness in 2020?

Roll Call, Why So Few House Republican Leadership Races Are Contested, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 14, 2018. Five of the seven House GOP leadership positions are solo affairs. At the top, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy is expected to easily defeat Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan for minority leader.

Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, has been one of the few voices calling for new Republican leadership after the party’s drubbing last week.

The middle five leadership positions are uncontested, guaranteeing the Republican Conference will elect Louisiana’s Steve Scalise as minority whip, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as conference chairwoman, Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer as National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker as conference vice chairman and Missouri Rep. Jason Smith as conference secretary.

#MeToo, Sexual Assault, Universities

ny times logoNew York Times, For University of Minnesota, Chinese Tycoon’s Arrest Shines Light, Again, on Sexual Assault, Tiffany Hsu, Raymond Zhong and Carolyn Zhang, Nov. 14, 2018 (print edition). When the Chinese billionaire Richard Liu was arrested two months ago in Minneapolis on suspicion of rape, he wasn’t in town for business. Mr. Liu, a 45-year-old internet tycoon, was a student at the University of Minnesota, taking in lectures by day and enjoying dinner parties by night.

As prosecutors weigh whether to charge Mr. Liu, the case represents a setback for a university that has made progress on how it handles sexual misconduct. In recent years, the university has dealt with a series of sexual assault and harassment episodes involving students and faculty members, which have prompted a state audit and new campus policies. Now, the university is once again in the national conversation, and the focus this time is on a relatively new and lucrative academic program.

Mr. Liu, who has denied wrongdoing, was in Minnesota for a global business program, aimed at Asian executives, that is on track to generate over $10 million for the school in tuition since starting last year. His accuser, who has not been publicly identified, is a young Chinese student at the university who volunteered for the program.

The case “puts the university administration in an impossible situation” as it tries to simultaneously protect its students and its reputation, said Kristen Houlton Shaw, the executive director of the nonprofit Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis.

Media Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Leading conservative lawyers criticized Mr. Trump’s attacks on the justice system and the news media, Adam Liptak, Nov. 14, 2018. The annual convention of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, has long been a glittering and bustling affair. In the Trump era, though, the group has become more powerful than ever, supplying intellectual energy and judicial candidates to an assertive administration eager to reshape the legal landscape.

But as the group prepares to gather on Thursday for the start of this year’s convention, more than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers have joined together to sound a note of caution. They are urging their fellow conservatives to speak up about what they say are the Trump administration’s betrayals of bedrock legal norms.

The group, called Checks and Balances, was organized by George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer and the husband of President Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway. In recent opinion articles, Mr. Conway has criticized Mr. Trump’s statements on birthright citizenship and argued that his appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker to serve as acting attorney general violated the Constitution.

The new group also includes Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of homeland security in the Bush administration; Peter D. Keisler, a former acting attorney general in the Bush administration; two prominent conservative law professors, Jonathan H. Adler and Orin S. Kerr; and Lori S. Meyer, a lawyer who is married to Eugene B. Meyer, the president of the Federalist Society.

Nov. 13

Challenge To Trump, DOJ

Reuters, Maryland goes to court to challenge Trump's attorney general pick, Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey, Nov. 13, 2018.  The state of Maryland launched a court challenge on Tuesday to the legality of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general, saying the president overstepped his constitutional authority and broke federal law.

matthew whitaker headshot recentTrump installed Whitaker, right, as acting attorney general last week after ordering Jeff Sessions to resign from the post. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself in March 2017 from the federal investigation, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, a probe Trump has called a “witch hunt.”

Maryland asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander to bar Whitaker from appearing in an official capacity as acting attorney general in existing litigation related to the Affordable Care Act healthcare law and to substitute Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in Whitaker’s place.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here comes that boatload full of House Democrat subpoenas against Donald Trump, his family, and his goons, Bill Palmer, Nov. 13, 2018. Over the weekend, Palmer Report explained that while the new Democratic House majority obviously intends to destroy and oust Donald Trump, the most effective way to do that is not to immediately jump into impeachment proceedings. Instead, the best chance of impeachment actually working is if the Democrats use their newfound subpoena power and committee hearing control to severely weaken Trump first. Sure enough, here comes the boatload of subpoenas.

Internally, House Democrats are preparing to launch a “subpoena cannon” in the direction of Donald Trump and everyone in his orbit, according to Axios. In all there are at least eighty-five different targets for these subpoenas. In our estimation, that’s enough to include Trump’s cabinet, his White House advisers, his campaign advisers, and his family.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that when the House Intelligence Committee was under Republican control, various Trump-Russia figures raced to testify before the committee, so the committee could falsely declare their innocence. The trouble for them now: their testimony is still on record, and now it’s about to fall under control of House Democrats. If any of Trump’s people lied during their testimony, look for quick criminal referrals on the part of incoming committee chairman Adam Schiff.

California Wildfires / Climate Change

california wildfire washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, For Trump, even disaster response is colored in red and blue, Matt Viser and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 13, 2018. California has been a leader in the resistance to President Trump, and his disdain for it has been evident during repeated bouts of wildfires and other difficulties.

ny times logoNew York Times, More Than 200 Missing in California’s Deadliest Wildfire, Thomas Fuller, Nov. 13, 2018. Search teams were heading back into the devastated town of Paradise with the grim expectation of finding more bodies. The Camp Fire, the deadliest in California history with 42 dead, and the Woolsey Fire, which killed two, were both only about 30 percent contained.

washington post logoWashington Post, California wildfire becomes state’s deadliest, turns retirees’ haven into a living hell, Scott Wilson, Nov. 13, 2018. The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California rose to 44 with the discovery of 13 more bodies, including 10 in Paradise.

Trump To Fire Homeland Secretary?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is preparing to remove Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary, aides say, Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Nov. 12, kirstjen nielsen o2018. The president is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his immigration policy ideas with more alacrity.

President Trump has told advisers he has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, right, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner, according to five current and former White House officials.

us dhs big eagle logo4Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.

Nielsen’s departure would leave a leadership void at the government’s third-largest agency, which has 240,000 employees and a $60 billion budget. The deputy secretary job at DHS has been vacant since April, and the White House has not submitted to Congress a nomination for that post.

Trump Firings?

nbc news logoNBC News, After clashes with first lady and others, Kelly may soon exit White House, Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Courtney Kube, Nov. 13, 2018. The White John KellyHouse Chief of Staff has had an array of disputes with officials from the NSC and the East Wing in recent months.

washington post logoWashington Post, First lady Melania Trump’s office calls for firing of White House national security official, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 13, 2018.  The news of the potential ouster of deputy national security adviser Mira R. Ricardel comes amid reports of tensions between Ricardel and White House officials. A National Security Council spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Saudi Dissident's Murder

ny times logomohammed bin salman al saudNew York Times, Tell Your Boss’: Recording Is Seen to Link Saudi Crown Prince to Khashoggi Killing, Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt and David D. Kirkpatrick, Nov. 13, 2018 (print edition). Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a member of the kill team made a call to a superior. The recording is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence connecting the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right, to Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

Press Freedom

washington post logojim acosta gage skidmore croppedWashington Post, CNN sues White House to regain access for reporter Jim Acosta, Paul Farhi​, Nov. 13, 2018. The unusual lawsuit comes after the president banished Acosta from the White House grounds after a testy exchange last week.

CNN sued the Trump Administration on behalf of reporter Jim Acosta (shown at right in a Gage Skidmore photo) on Tuesday, asking a court to restore Acosta’s White House press pass after President Trump suspended it last week.

The unusual lawsuit, an escalation of Trump’s longrunning war of words with CNN, seeks a judge’s intervention after Trump banished Acosta from the White House grounds for an indefinite period after a brief altercation between Acosta and a White House press aide.

cnn logoAfter a testy exchange between the president and the reporter, the unidentified press aide went up to Acosta to take a microphone out of his hands. As a result, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced a few hours later that the White House had revoked Acosta’s “hard pass,” which enables reporters to enter and leave the grounds each day.

CNN filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington. “We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process,” the network said in a statement released Tuesday morning.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House changes its tune on why it yanked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass, Aaron Blake, Nov. 13, 2018. That the White House isn’t sticking with its initial justification when faced with legal action shows how dodgy the claim was to begin with. In a statement Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested that the decision was about Acosta refusing to yield the microphone while questioning the president.

But that’s different from the initial justifications offered by the White House for revoking Acosta’s press pass. Less than a week ago, it was primarily about him supposedly placing his hands on and getting too rough with an intern.

Mediaite, Bob Woodward Criticizes CNN Lawsuit Against White House: We’re Taking Trump’s ‘Bait,’ Joe DePaolo, Nov. 13, 2018. One of the preeminent figures in American journalism is coming out against the rare lawsuit filed by a news organization against the White House.

bob woodwardIn comments reported by Dylan Byers of NBC News, Bob Woodward — speaking at the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples, FL — came out against CNN’s White House lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday morning. The network is suing to have access restored for its chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

But Woodward, shown in a file photo, believes CNN is just taking the “bait” being dangled by President Donald Trump. “This is a negative,” Woodward said. He added, “Trump is sitting around saying, ‘This is great.’ …When we engage in [Trump’s strategy] we’re taking his bait.”

The longtime Washington Post journalist added, “The remedy [isn’t a lawsuit], it’s more serious reporting about what he’s doing.”

Inside Trump World

washington post logoWashington Post, In a morning tweetstorm, Trump takes repeated aim at France’s Macron, John Wagner and James McAuley, Nov. 13, 2018.  President Trump lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron's approval rating, his country’s employment rate, its trade policies on wine and his vision for the military.

emmanuel macronPresident Trump unleashed verbal attacks Tuesday on French President Emmanuel Macron, right, taking aim at his approval rating, his country’s employment rate, its trade policies on wine and his vision for the military.

The broadside on Twitter escalated a spat that began Friday when Trump took umbrage at Macron’s call in a radio interview for a “true European army” so that the continent can defend itself without relying on the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Donald Trump knows the true meaning of sacrifice, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 13, 2018. On Veterans Day, Americans recall the sacrifices of dana milbank Customthose who served our country.

We think of the bayonet charge of Maine’s 20th Regiment on Little Round Top, the young men battling through rain and poison gas in the Argonne, the soldiers in the frozen Ardennes Forest in the Battle of the Bulge.

djt handwave fileAnd we think of President Trump [shown in a file photo], battling rain for not one but two days in France this weekend. On Saturday, the White House, citing “logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” canceled Trump’s trip to a memorial at Belleau, where 2,000 U.S. Marines died a century ago. It was raining — and Trump opted to remain at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, watching TV and tweeting.

The next day, when other world leaders marched down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe for the centenary of the Armistice ending World War I, Trump instead took his motorcade. The reason this time: security. Once again, it was raining, and Trump stayed dry in his armored limousine.

These were brave decisions, because they meant Trump would have to endure the hurtful images of other world leaders visiting other memorials around France despite the rain, then marching in soggy solidarity without him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Park Service nominee will be grilled on whether protesters should pay for security costs, Marissa J. Lang, Nov. 13, 2018. The Park Service has proposed changes to how the agency facilitates protests in the District — including a query on whether the agency should consider charging organizers for the costs of large-scale demonstrations — and several senators have raised objections to the change.

epa general, Trump’s southeast regional EPA administrator indicted on Alabama ethics charges, Kyle Whitmire, A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted the Southeast regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a former Alabama Environmental Management Commissioner for violating state ethics laws.

Charges include multiple violations of Alabama’s Ethics Act, including soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate, and receiving money in addition that received in one’s official capacity, according to the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Before being appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as the Region 4 administrator of the EPA, Trey Glenn worked closely with the Birmingham-based law firm Balch & Bingham and one of its clients, Drummond Co., to fight EPA efforts to test and clean up neighborhoods in north Birmingham and Tarrant.

President Donald Trump appointed Glenn lead EPA’s Region 4 in August 2017, after incidents covered in the indictment. That region includes Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

After he was appointed to the EPA position, Glenn reported income from numerous public and private entities, including the BCA, City of Birmingham, Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority, Matrix LLC, Blue Ridge Partners, Strada and Big Sky Environmental.

Big Sky Environmental made headlines this year after it accepted human feces from New York for disposal at its Adamsville landfill. A train that delivered that refuse stunk up the surrounding community and after national news coverage became known as the “poop train.”

More on U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, A Week After the Election, Democratic Gains Grow Stronger, Alexander Burns, Nov. 13, 2018. What seemed like a mixed result for Republicans has turned more kyrsten sinema ogrim as Democrats continue to pick up seats in the House and statewide gains come into focus.

Democratic losses in the Senate look less serious than they did a week ago, after Kyrsten Sinema, right, was declared the winner in Arizona on Monday.

The underlying shifts in the electorate suggest President Trump may have to walk a precarious path to re-election in 2020, as several Midwestern states he won in 2016 threaten to slip away, and once-red states in the Southwest turn a purpler hue. The president’s strategy of sowing racial division and stoking alarm about immigration failed to lift his party, and Democratic messaging about health care undercut the benefit Republicans hoped to gain from a strong economy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge delays certification of Georgia results, citing concerns over provisional ballots, Vanessa Williams, Nov. 13, 2018. The court said that Georgia's secretary of state must first try to contact voters and allow them to address problems that might prevent their provisional ballots from being counted.

ny times logomark sanford oNew York Times, Opinion: A Wake-Up Call for the G.O.P., Mark Sanford, Nov. 13, 2018 (print edition). Mr. Sanford, right, is a Republican representative from South Carolina. My South Carolina district hadn’t voted for a Democrat in 40 years. What happened?

In June, after winning three straight elections to the House of Representatives from South Carolina, I lost my primary race to Katie Arrington, who in turn lost last week’s general election to Joe Cunningham, a Democrat. After the general election, Ms. Arrington immediately blamed me for her loss because I did not endorse her.

While it’s human nature to blame someone, what happened here is far bigger than any postelection spin, given that it has been more than 40 years since a Democrat has held this seat, which runs along South Carolina’s coast and leans Republican by 10 points. In fact, there was not a more conservative district in the country to flip to the Democrats.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Truth and Virtue in the Age of Trump, Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 12, 2018. You’re a hero if and only if you serve The Leader’s interests.

What with the midterm elections — and the baseless Republican cries of voting fraud — I don’t know how many people heard about Trump’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson, wife of casino owner and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson. The medal is normally an acknowledgment of extraordinary achievement or public service; on rare occasions this includes philanthropy. But does anyone think the Adelsons’ charitable activities were responsible for this honor?

Now, this may seem like a trivial story. But it’s a reminder that the Trumpian attitude toward truth — which is that it’s defined by what benefits Trump and his friends, not by verifiable facts — also applies to virtue. There is no heroism, there are no good works, except those that serve Trump.

In Trumpworld, which is now indistinguishable from, good and bad are defined solely by whether the interests of The Leader are served. Thus, Trump attacks and insults our closest allies while praising brutal dictators who flatter him (and declares neo-Nazis “very fine people”).

washington post logoWashington Post, Should 16-year-olds be able to vote for president in the nation’s capital? Fenit Nirappil, Nov. 13, 2018. The D.C. Council is poised to give preliminary approval to a bill allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How to lose in 2020 if you are a Republican, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 13, 2018. Over the weekend, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) who heads the National Republican Senate Committee, joined President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in fanning conspiracy theories — baseless and irresponsible theories, that is — about possible vote stealing in Florida. Republicans cling to Trump and curry favor with the White House at their own risk. If they want to win independents’ and moderates’ voters support, they better stop acting like Trump lap dogs.

mike espy cindy hyde smith jackson free press

Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic challenger Mike Espy (shown above) are headed for a runoff on November 27. Here's why Espy has a better chance than you might guess.

GQ, How a Democrat Could Swipe a Senate Seat in Deep-Red Mississippi, Jay Willis, Nov. 13, 2018.Mississippi's Cindy Hyde-Smith, appointed by the governor in March to replacing the retiring Thad Cochran, failed on Election Day to earn the majority necessary to win the special election for the right to serve out the remainder of Cochran's term, which expires in 2021. Thus, the top two vote-getters — Hyde-Smith, a Republican who took home 41.5 percent of the vote, and Democrat Mike Espy, a black former congressman, who finished just behind her at 40.6 percent — will head to a runoff on November 27.

All this means is that right now is not a great time for Cindy Hyde-Smith to do this: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.

Hyde-Smith is not talking about Espy here. But even so, at best, her comments are a profoundly ill-advised attempt at folksy humor in the state that was the nation's lynching capital between the end of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

U.S. Economy / Jobs

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change Corporate Behavior. Here’s What Happened, Jim Tankersley and Matt Phillips, Nov. 13, 2018 (print edition). Nearly a year after the tax cut, economic growth has accelerated. Wage growth has not. Companies are buying back stock and business investment is a mixed bag.

The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that President Trump signed into law late last year has already given the American economy a jolt, at least temporarily. It has fattened the paychecks of most American workers, padded the profits of large corporations and sped economic growth. Ten months after the law took effect, that promised “supply-side” bump is harder to find than the sugar-high stimulus. It’s still early, but here’s what the numbers tell us so far.

washington post logoamazon logo smallWashington Post, Amazon makes it official, selects Northern Va., NYC for new outposts, Jonathan O'Connell, Robert McCartney and Patricia Sullivan​, Nov. 13, 2018. The company will split its much-sought investment of up to 50,000 jobs between sites in Crystal City in Arlington County, Va., and New York City. Amazon also said it has selected Nashville for a new center for its operations business.

ny times logoNew York Times, Offering $2 Billion in Incentives, Did New York and Virginia Overpay for Amazon? Ben Casselman, Nov. 13, 2018. The states offered tax credits, rebates and other incentives to lure the online retail giant and 25,000 jobs. Neighboring states offered even more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Property owners are delighted Amazon is coming to the region. Renters, first-time buyers and low-income residents aren’t, Tracy Jan and Kathy Orton, Nov. 13, 2018.  An influx of highly paid tech workers could exacerbate inequality in the D.C. region, housing advocates and others warn.

Famine Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: To rescue Yemen, the U.S. must end all military support of the Saudi coalition, Editorial Board, Nov. 13, 2018. If the Trump administration will not get tough on Saudi Arabia, Congress should act in its place.

Brexit Draft Goes To UK Cabinet

ny times logoNew York Times, Britain and E.U. Agree on a Plan for Brexit, Stephen Castle, Nov. 13, 2018. The draft agreement opened the way for a high-stakes meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.

United Kingdom flagBritish and European Union officials reached a long-awaited draft agreement on Tuesday on Britain’s troubled withdrawal from the bloc, opening the way for a high-stakes meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May’s most senior ministers to consider the plans, the prime minister’s office said.

Cabinet ministers will have a chance to review the draft text before a critical meeting of the full cabinet at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the prime minister’s office said.

After months of deadlock over the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc, the presentation of the draft agreement is a moment of truth for Mrs. May, who is desperate to avoid a chaotic and disorderly “no-deal” Brexit. But she cannot be assured of support from hard-line Brexiteers in her cabinet, whom she may need to face down.

Nov. 12

California Wildfire

San Diego Union, California wildfires: New records set by 2018 fires, Luis Gomez, Nov. 12, 2018. It had only been nearly a year since the Thomas Fire was declared the largest wildfire recorded in California, but the fires burning in early November are already setting new records. The death toll was reported as 42 Monday night.

Three major wildfires in California continued to burn Monday with catastrophic results — 29 dead in Paradise where more than 6,000 homes have burned, thousands more threatened by two more blazes in Southern California, and as many as 210,603 acres burned collectively.

The Camp Fire, the largest and most destructive of all, was only 25 percent contained, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson said in a tweet Monday.

Whitaker Job, Mueller Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, Top Democrats Vow to Block Matthew Whitaker From Interfering in Russia Inquiry, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 12, 2018 (print edition). Newly empowered House Democrats threatened to subpoena the acting attorney general and take other measures as they push for his recusal from the investigation.

jerrold nadler o SmallThe incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, right, vowed to make Mr. Whitaker the panel’s first witness when the new Congress convenes in January — and subpoena him if necessary. The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said Democrats would investigate Mr. Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly and explicitly criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

democratic donkey logo“The questions we will ask him will be about his expressed hostility to the investigation, and how he can possibly supervise it when he’s expressed, when he’s come out and said the investigation is invalid,” Mr. Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

And Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, warned that if Mr. Whitaker did not step aside, Democrats would attach legislation protecting the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to a must-pass spending bill.

CNN, Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi says he expects to be indicted by Mueller, Evan Perez with host Wolf Blitzer, Nov. 12, 2018 (3:30 mins.). Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi said Monday he expects to be indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for "giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury." Corsi made the comment during his streaming show on YouTube.

jerome corsi"And now I fully anticipate that the next few days, I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury or however they want to do the indictment. But I'm going to be criminally charged," Corsi said Monday.

Corsi, right, could face any number of charges -- spanning from perjury to making false claims to obstruction of justice. The potential charges are related to false statements he made about his relationship with WikiLeaks and Stone.

Corsi's role in the investigation largely revolves around the possibility that he was an intermediary between Stone and WikiLeaks. Stone denies that he ever told Trump about WikiLeaks' dumps before they became public. He also denies colluding with Russia.

Doctors Fight Gun Lobby

washington post logoWashington Post, "Being silenced is not acceptable: Doctors express outrage after NRA tells them ‘to stay in their lane,’ Frances Stead Sellers, Nov. 12, 2018 (print edition). At first, Judy Melinek didn’t know how to respond when she learned about a National Rifle Association tweet last week telling doctors who dared enter the gun debate “to stay in their lane.”

nra logo CustomBut two days later, when the West Coast forensic pathologist was on her way to the morgue to examine the body of one of the country’s many forgotten gunshot victims, the words came to her.

“Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane,” she tweeted Friday. “It’s my [expletive] highway.”

Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore who suffers from a paralyzed vocal cord after taking a stray bullet in the neck almost 25 years ago, refused to stay silent as the country’s latest mass shooting hit the news.

“I have Two Words for you Hell No! #Hell No for #ThousandOaks #Hell No for all black men that die & no one hears about it. #Hell No for all those that we still may be able to save,” Sakran wrote.

Melinek and Sakran are among countless medical professionals who have taken to Twitter in the past few days to fire back at the NRA — creating a viral response that has ricocheted around the Internet under the hashtags #thisisourlane and #thisismylane.

countless medical professionals who have taken to Twitter in the past few days to fire back at the NRA — creating a viral response that has ricocheted around the Internet under the hashtags #thisisourlane and #thisismylane.

They have taken a debate that has churned for decades among powerful political gun lobbies and in academic journals and relaunched it in the unfiltered Twittersphere. And they have accompanied their indignant messages with photographs of feet sliding on red-splattered floors, of swabs and scrubs drenched in blood, and occasionally of unidentifiable and misshapen torsos heaped on gurneys.

U.S. Elections

kyrsten sinema oRoll Call, Kyrsten Sinema Becomes First Female Senator Elected From Arizona, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 12, 2018. She’s also the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate election in 30 years.

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, right, has made history by becoming the first woman elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. She defeated Republican Rep. Martha McSally after several days of ballot counting. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sinema led McSally 50 percent to 48 percent when The Associated Press called the race six days after Election Day.

Sinema’s victory also marks the first time in 30 years that a Democrat has won a Senate seat in Arizona. Sinema’s historic win could appear surprising in a state where women had early success running for statewide office. But long-serving male senators kept Senate seats elusive, until the two women faced off this year to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls for halting recounts in Florida races, handing victories to fellow Republicans, Sean Sullivan, Beth Reinhard and John Wagner, Nov. 12, 2018. The president alleged without evidence that many ballots were missing and forged and that a valid tally was no longer possible in the races for governor and U.S. Senate. Florida officials say they have found no evidence of criminal conduct.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Monday called for halting the just-launched recounts in the Florida races for Senate and governor, alleging without evidence that many ballots were missing and forged and that a valid tally was no longer possible.

In a morning tweet, Trump suggested the results from the night of the election should stand, handing victories to fellow Republicans Rick Scott in the Senate race and Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” Trump said in a tweet that misstated what Florida officials have concluded. “An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats signal aggressive scrutiny of Trump, resist impeachment calls, Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 12, 2018. Fresh off a resounding midterm elections victory, House Democrats on Sunday began detailing plans to wield their newfound oversight power in the next Congress, setting their sights on acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker while rebuffing calls from some liberals to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Democrats Can’t Play It Safe. They Need Inspiring Candidates, Steve Phillips, Nov. 12, 2018. Learning the right lessons from the 2018 midterms is key for the party as it looks ahead to the 2020 elections. Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, progressive African-American Democratic candidates, may not have won their races for governor in Florida and Georgia (both are still too close to call). But the strategy they followed is still the best strategy for Democrats to win: inspiring, mobilizing and turning out voters of color and progressive whites.

democratic donkey logoConventional wisdom dictated that both Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams did not give Democrats their best chance; more traditional, moderate white candidates were seen as the most competitive.

claire mccaskill 113th oMidterm results laid bare the fallacy of that view. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democratic senator, lost to Josh Hawley by six percentage points, 45.5 percent to 51.5 percent. Senator McCaskill, right, campaigned by highlighting her moderate credentials and ran a radio ad distancing herself from her party: “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats,” a narrator said. “She works right in the middle and finds compromise.”

In Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, the state’s former governor, lost his bid for the Senate by over 10 points despite his attempt to peel off Trump supporters by coming out in support of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

cindy hyde smith gov phil bryant 11 12 2018 twitter

Mississipppi Gov. Phil Bryant and Sen. Cind Hyde-Smith at an anti-abortion event on Nov. 12 (Twitter photo via Jackson Free Press).

Jackson Free Press, Governor Calls Abortion ‘Black Genocide,’ Amber Helsel, Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd, Nov. 12, 2018. Defends Hyde-Smith on ‘Hanging’ Tape. Gov. Phil Bryant led a press conference about Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s anti-abortion position today by railing against the supposed “black genocide” by African American women choosing to have the procedure.

As state and national controversy swirls around U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comment about a “public hanging” in her race against an African American opponent, Gov. Phil Bryant opened a press conference this morning implying that black women are participating in “the genocide of 20 million African American children” through legal abortions.

“See, in my heart, I am confused about where the outrage is at about 20 million African American children that have been aborted. No one wants to say anything about that. No one wants to talk about that,” Bryant said, with Hyde-Smith and National Right to Life President Carol Tobias standing nearby.

Bryant’s use of the abortion-as-genocide conspiracy theory about a woman’s right to choose a legal abortion, a trope popular with white conservatives, comes amid a state and national outcry after it went viral Sunday that Hyde-Smith had made a comment about “public hangings” at a campaign stop in Tupelo. She is in a run-off to keep her U.S. Senate set on Tuesday, Nov. 27, against former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, who would become Mississippi’s first African American senator since Reconstruction, should he win the race.

Anti-abortion activists, white and black, often point to black women choosing abortion as a form of “genocide” of African Americans. “Look at African Americans,” Bryant said Monday morning. “According to Wikipedia, had those (black) children not been aborted, the African American population would be 48 percent larger in America. Forty-eight percent larger. We can play with those numbers, and we can look at statistics, but the cold, grim truth is, children are being murdered.” (At press time, we had not located the Wikipedia page Bryant referred to.)

The “black genocide” charge draws heavy criticism from African American women who work to increase better health and reproductive care for Mississippi mothers.
How Personhood Failed in Mississippi

#MeToo Terror At Border

ny times logoNew York Times, They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun, Manny Fernandez with photographs and video by Caitlin O’Hara, Nov. 12, 2018. After crossing the Rio Grande, three immigrant women were picked up by a Border Patrol agent. Their relief soon turned to terror.

Pressures On Trumpwashington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is cracking, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 12, 2018. President Trump is back in the United States — and back to attacking democracy.

The press and the country at large should keep in mind that Trump acts out when he is weak, humiliated and cornered. He’s all those things right now:

• His performance in Europe was panned.• The election results get worse for Republicans with each passing day.• His great North Korea diplomacy, contrary to the gullible pundits and political spinners, was a bust. (He was snookered.)• We now have two major Middle East problems — Iran and out-of-control Sunni despots who think (not unreasonably) they can lead him around by the nose.• He is not winning the trade war, and it may be one of many factors leading to an economic pullback before the 2020 election.• Mueller plows ahead, with possibly more indictments (e.g., Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr.). • Obamacare is here to stay. It’s more popular than ever, and red America has fallen in love with Medicaid expansion.• Trump’s finances are no longer protected from scrutiny, nor are his daughter and son-in-law’s.

Vatican Stops U.S. Sex Abuse Probe

washington post logopope francis 2013 SmallWashington Post, Vatican blocks plan by American Catholic leaders to confront sexual abuse, Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein, Nov. 12, 2018. In a surprising directive, the Vatican asked that America’s bishops halt their effort to hold bishops more responsible in abuse cases that have scourged the church. Pope Francis  is shown at right.

School Hitler Salute?

washington post logoWashington Post, Apparent Nazi salute at prom investigated by Wisconsin school district, Laura Meckler and Deanna Paul, Nov. 12, 2018. A large group of boys at a rural Wisconsin high school prom was photographed displaying what appears to be the Nazi salute, prompting international outrage and a local investigation.

In the photo, more than 50 boys from Baraboo, Wis., pose on outdoor steps. The vast majority are shown hoisting their right arms stiff and straight into the air, fingers pointed out, as Nazis did in Adolf Hitler’s Germany. One boy in the front row has his arms down but his right hand is forming the okay sign, a symbol adopted by the white power movement.

Israeli-Gaza Escalations

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel bombs more than 70 Gaza targets, including Hamas TV station, as 300 rockets are fired into Israel, Ruth Eglash, Hazem Balousha and Loveday Morris​, Nov. 12, 2018. A new round of hostilities triggered by a botched Israeli covert operation into the Gaza Strip pushed the territory’s fragile security situation to the brink on Monday, as Palestinian militants launched hundreds of rockets toward Israel and Israeli jets carried out bombing raids.

Israel’s military said it had rushed extra infantry troops and air defenses to the boundary with Gaza as at least 300 projectiles were launched toward Israeli territory in less than three hours into Monday evening. At least two projectiles hit houses, while an antitank missile hit a bus transporting soldiers near the border, the military said, critically injuring a 19-year-old soldier.

The military said it had targeted the TV station for “providing operational messaging to militants” as a barrage of rockets from Gaza showed no sign of slowing. Palestinian factions vowed revenge after a botched Israeli covert operation. ·​

Global News: N. Korea

ny times logonorth korea flagNew York Times, Missile Bases in North Korea Suggest a Great Deception, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Nov. 12, 2018. President Trump says the nuclear threat from North Korea is over. New satellite images of 16 hidden ballistic missile bases suggest that it has worsened since his summit meeting.

Crisis For Defrauded U.S. Students

ny times logoNew York Times, Borrowers Face Hazy Path as Program to Forgive Student Loans Stalls Under Betsy DeVos, Stacy Cowley, Nov. 11, 2018.  The students attended institutions with pragmatic names like the Minnesota School of Business and others whose branding evoked ivy-draped buildings and leafy quads, like Corinthian Colleges. Tens of thousands of them say they are alike in one respect: They were victims of fraud, left with useless degrees and crushing debts.

Now the government program meant to forgive the federal loans of cheated students has all but stopped functioning.

No Education Department employees are devoted full time to investigating borrowers’ complaints, according to three people familiar with the agency’s operations. Instead, the agency’s staff has fought in court to reduce the amount of relief granted to some students and to halt a rule change intended to speed other claims along.

U.S. Politics: 2020 Electionrichard ojeda screengrab

CNN, Richard Ojeda launches presidential bid after losing House race, Dan Merica, Nov. 12, 2018 (3:51 min. video). Richard Ojeda, shown above, the former congressional candidate who lost his 2018 bid as a Democrat in southern West Virginia, is running for president in 2020. "I'm Richard Ojeda and I'm running for the President of the United States of America," he announced Monday at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

Prior to his announcement, Ojeda filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for President and teased the run in an email to supporters on Sunday night.

democratic donkey logoOjeda's entry to the race is unexpected and highlights just how massive the Democratic field for President will be in 2020. Democratic operatives believe big-name candidates will announce presidential bids in early 2019, but fully expect candidates like Ojeda and others to explore a run starting in late 2018.

richard ojeda CustomOjeda's unique candidacy -- he is a former Army paratrooper who ran on the Democratic ticket as a populist and Trump critic in Republican West Virginia -- markedly over-performed how Hillary Clinton did in the state in 2016. Trump won the state's 3rd Congressional District by 49 percentage points in 2016. Ojeda closed that gap, losing by 12 percentage points earlier this month.

But getting through a Democratic primary could be difficult: Ojeda, shown during his previous military service, voted for Trump in 2016, something that may be beyond the pale for some Democrats.
Ojeda has soured on Trump, though, and Trump called him "a total whacko" at campaign events in 2018.

At his announcement on Monday, Ojeda said, "I think I relate to the people far more than what the President can ever relate to these people. The very people he comes down to West Virginia and stands in front of could never afford one single round of golf in some of his fancy country clubs. That's not where I stand."
He continued, "I stand with the working-class citizens. I am a Democrat because I believe in what the Democratic Party is supposed to be: taking care of our working-class citizens."

Nov. 11

California Wildfirescalifornia wildfire washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, California wildfire threatens to become deadliest in state history, Joel Achenbach and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Nov. 11, 2018. Already the most destructive wildfire in California history, the Camp Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills has become the state’s third deadliest — killing 23 people in three days, with more than 100 people unaccounted for in a charred swath of land larger than Detroit.

Although the fire [portrayed above in a photo via the Washington Post] had been 25 percent contained by Sunday, high temperatures and gusty winds made the weather optimal for the Northern California fire to spread for at least another day.

As of Saturday, the Camp Fire had destroyed nearly 7,000 structures in and around the mountain town of Paradise and has been blamed for most of the last week’s fire deaths. The wildfire is the deadliest in the state since 1991. In Southern California, two people were found dead in fires burning outside Los Angeles.

Global Leaders Meet

Reuters, Russian President Vladimir Putin talked to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Paris on Sunday Russian news agencies cited Putin as saying,  Maria Kiselyova, Nov. 11, 2018. Putin, who attended Armistice commemorations in the French capital, said the conversation was good, RIA reported.

washington post logoemmanuel macronWashington Post, Critics pile on after Trump cancels visit to U.S. military cemetery outside Paris, citing weather, David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley, Nov. 11, 2018 (print edition). French President Emmanuel Macron, right, says Europe should take on more of defense burden.

President Trump flew 3,800 miles to this French capital city for ceremonies to honor the military sacrifice in World War I, hoping to take part in the kind of powerful ode to the bravery of the armed forces that he was unable to hold in Washington.

But on his first full day here, it rained on his substitute parade weekend. Early Saturday, the White House announced Trump and the first lady had scuttled plans, due to bad weather, for their first stop in the weekend’s remembrance activities — a visit to the solemn Aisne Marne American Cemetery, marking the ferocious Battle of Belleau Wood.

It was not completely clear why the Trumps were unable to attend. The cemetery is 50 miles from Paris. Perhaps the president was planning to travel on Marine One, which is occasionally grounded by the military. But the sight of dignitaries arriving at other sites outside Paris, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, led some foreign policy analysts to speculate the U.S. commander in chief just wasn’t up for it.

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” David Frum, who served as a speechwriter to President George W. Bush, wrote in tweets. Trump is actually staying at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris.

So began a weekend in which Trump — battling on a number of political fronts in Washington — seemed distracted and disengaged. Trump left Washington as the list of White House worries piled up: newly empowered Democrats, criticism of his pick for acting attorney general and backlash over his personal attacks against journalists.

washington post logoWashington Post, In remembrance of World War I, Macron denounces nationalism as a ‘betrayal of patriotism,’ David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley​, Nov. 11, 2018. French President Emmanuel Macron's speech to more than 60 global leaders, including President Trump, aimed to draw a clear line between his belief that a global order based on liberal values is worth defending and those who have sought to disrupt that system.

U.S. Elections

democratic donkey logony times logoNew York Times, In the Campaign, Democrats Didn’t Let Trump Distract Them. That Will Be Harder Now, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nov. 11, 2018. As Democrats prepare to assume control of the House, a central challenge will be remaining focused as they put forward their own agenda. Striking a balance between working to hold the Trump administration accountable and ignoring the president’s provocations will be imperative.

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Democrat wants to question whether Trump targeted CNN, Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 11, 2018. To the long list of investigations House Democrats have planned for next year, add a look into whether President Trump used his office to try to punish companies associated with CNN and The Washington Post.

Incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) brought up the potential probe during an interview with Axios as an example of the type of oversight Democrats should be exercising.

Schiff pointed to Trump’s effort to block AT&T from purchasing Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, and his desire to get the U.S. Postal Service to increase shipping costs on Amazon, whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, also owns The Post.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, The Indicted and the Dead, Travis Dunn, Nov. 11, 2018. Once-Toxic Officials Elected Thanks to Partisanship. The indicted and the dead have been elected chris collins cropped obefore, and likely will be again. This past election was no different, providing several notable examples of criminal defendants being elected to office, as well as a congressman who sued an elderly constituent for defamation. And, of course, this list would not be complete without the dead pimp who won a race in Nevada:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton; Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA 10); Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Dennis Hof, deceased brothel owner and newly elected representative for the 36th Assembly District of Nevada; Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY 27, shown at right); and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50).

While it is unusual for such candidates to win elections, it is not unheard of, particularly in Congress. Analysis found that at least 25 sitting congressmen since 1987 have been elected despite being under indictment.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rick Scott spirals out of control as the Florida elections start to slip away from him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 11, 2018. The 2018 races for Governor and Senator in Florida have turned out to be as suspiciously stacked in the Republicans’ favor as the 2106 race for President was in Florida, and the most obvious commonality is that Rick Scott has been the Governor overseeing all of the above rig-jobs.

Scott also happens to be the GOP candidate in the 2018 Senate in question. Not shockingly, he’s done everything he could to try to prevent all the votes from being counted – but his efforts are starting to slip away from him, and he knows it.

rick scott blue shirt fileTrue to form, Rick Scott, shown in a file photo, has been trying to prevent a legitimate vote count from happening in Florida this week. First he falsely accused Democrat-heavy Broward County of voter fraud, and sent in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. But that failed when the FDLE quickly concluded that there was no fraud in the county. So now Scott is spiraling out of control.

So far this evening Rick Scott has filed three bogus lawsuits aimed at preventing the votes from being properly counted. He’s trying to have the voting machines and ballots impounded in the midst of being counted, presumably so his henchmen can screw with the results. And, even though his own FDLE officials have confirmed that there was no voter fraud on the part of Democrats, he’s still using the word “fraud” in interviews.

ny times logoNew York Times, Uncounted Ballots, Overvoted Ballots: Why Is the Governor Claiming Fraud in Florida’s Election? Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei, Nov. 11, 2018. On Sunday, rick scottas three statewide recounts were underway, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, whose initial 56,000-vote lead over the Democratic incumbent, Bill Nelson, has dwindled to fewer than 13,000, filed emergency motions in court asking law enforcement agents to impound and secure voting machines when they are not in use.

The latest legal maneuvering came amid growing doubts over the progress of the recounts, required under state law for races — in this case, for governor, Senate and state agriculture commissioner — where the candidates are separated by margins of 0.5 percent or less.

Although experts say that no credible allegations of fraud have surfaced, the number of problems identified in Broward County and the county’s history of botched elections have prompted a number of prominent Republicans to call for the ouster of the elections supervisor, Brenda C. Snipes, who is a Democrat elected to the post.

Roll Call, Rohrabacher Loss Marks End of an Era in Orange County, Andrew Menezes, Nov. 11, 2018. Longtime Republican congressman loses to Democrat Harley Rouda. After 30 years representing the longtime conservative bastion of Orange County, California, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher will not be returning to Congress next year.

Democrat Harley Rouda led the 15-term Republican congressman by more than 8,500 votes in the 48th District, 52 percent to 48 percent, when The Associated Press called the race Saturday night. Rohrabacher has not conceded, with a campaign spokesman citing the need to wait until all votes were counted. Rohrabacher had won all but one of his previous races by double digits going back to 1988 — including a 17-point win two years ago — but the Democratic enthusiasm and strong voter distaste for President Donald Trump in the affluent, suburban seat appears to have been a liability for him this year.

Conservatives On New AG Disputes

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion; Trump’s acting attorney general pick was an unnecessary self-inflicted wound — but not a fatal one, Hugh Hewitt, Nov. 11, 2018. The appointment of acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker strikes many as possibly unconstitutional and even more as an utterly unnecessary self-inflicted political wound by the president. A “regular order” acting attorney general would have avoided igniting conspiracy theories. Replacing Whitaker quickly could still douse those that have been lit.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House Spin: Tump does know acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, Kellyanne Conway says, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 11, 2018. The White House counselor's comments came two days after President Trump sought to distance himself from his handpicked acting attorney general by claiming he didn't personally know him.

U.S. Presidency / First Lady

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: For eight years, Michelle Obama watched every word. In her memoir, she’s done with that, Connie Schultz, Nov. 11, 2018. Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and the author of “ . . . and His Lovely Wife.”

michelle obama becoming cover horizontalAs first lady, every word Michelle Obama uttered and every action she took received advance scrutiny for signs of potential damage to her husband’s presidency. Now, freed of the constraints of the White House, she is ready to tell it as she sees it. Her new memoir crackles with blunt, often searing observations about politics, race and gender in America. Its title, Becoming, reflects her journey from modest beginnings on the South Side of Chicago to an incessant spotlight on the world stage.

Though her life has been full and large, Obama is still figuring out who she wants to be. For the first time in two decades, she is allowing herself to explore her own ambitions separate from the rest of her family. She writes that her little girls, Malia and Sasha, are now “young women with plans and voices of their own.” Her husband is “catching his own breath” after eight years as president. “And here I am,” she writes, “in this new place, with a lot I want to say.”

Becoming is a political spouse’s memoir like no other, and I say that as the author of one. Obama doesn’t waste time naming every person who helped to elect her husband. This is her book, not his. She also cites, by name and deed, some of those who offended her. This is not an act of revenge but rather a clear sign that she is unwilling to pretend none of that mattered. Good for her.

But it hasn’t been easy. “Since stepping reluctantly into public life, I’ve been held up as the most powerful woman in the world and taken down as an ‘angry black woman,’ ” she writes in the preface. Those three words — angry black woman — make her want to ask her detractors “which part of that phrase matters to them the most — is it ‘angry’ or ‘black’ or ‘woman’?”

Nov. 10

California Fires Continue

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 200,000 flee as wildfires leave trail of death, destruction in Calif., Joel Achenbach, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Lindsey Bever and Eli Rosenberg​, Nov. 10, 2018.Officials announced nine dead in the Camp Fire and two more killed in Southern California fires. The massive Camp Fire north of Sacramento has destroyed some 6,700 structures, becoming the most destructive inferno in a state with a long and calamitous history of fires.

Election 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, Recount to begin in Fla. Senate and governor’s races, Beth Reinhard, Lori Rozsa and Sean Sullivan​, Nov. 10, 2018. Three statewide contests in Florida — including the closely watched Senate race — headed for history-making recounts, election officials confirmed Saturday, with the lead by Gov. Rick Scott (R) over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in the marquee contest shrinking to 12,562 votes out of nearly 8.2 million cast.

The .15 percent margin is narrow enough to not only trigger a machine recount, which by law must be completed by Thursday, but is likely to result in a recount by hand across the state — a complicated logistical task in the nation’s biggest battleground state.

The new tally in the governor’s race was not quite as close, but also met the threshold for a voting machine recount. Numbers posted on the state election website showed Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes.

washington post logoWashington Post, For Democrats, a midterm election that keeps on giving, Dan Balz and Michael Scherer, Nov. 10, 2018. Democrats appear poised to pick up between 35 and 40 Democratic-Republican Campaign logosseats in the House, once the last races are tallied, according to strategists in both parties. That would represent the biggest Democratic gain in the House since the post-Watergate election of 1974, when the party picked up 49 seats three months after Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency.

Republicans will gain seats in the Senate, but with races in Florida and Arizona still to be called, their pre-election majority of 51 seats will end up as low as 52 or as high as 54.

Meanwhile, Democrats gained seven governorships, recouping in part losses sustained in 2010 and 2014, and picked up hundreds of state legislative seats, where they had suffered a virtual wipeout in the previous two midterm elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prospect of another recount in Florida sparks partisan showdown, Amy Gardner, Beth Reinhard and Lori Rozsa, Nov. 10, 2010 (print edition). Trump says Florida officials ‘finding votes out of nowhere.’ The razor-close Senate race in Florida erupted into outright partisan warfare Friday as Democrats pressed for a recount and Republicans — including President Trump — accused local elections officials of tilting the outcome against them.

Trump and his allies offered no evidence that fraud was to blame for a diminishing GOP lead in heavily Democratic Broward County in South Florida, where the still-unfinished counting of absentee and provisional ballots has narrowed Republican Rick Scott’s statewide lead. The margin has prompted vocal protests from Republicans — a dramatic shift in rhetoric since Tuesday, when Trump declared “incredible” victories across the country and stayed away from accusations of a “rigged” election.

lucy mcbath anthony delgado kendra horn Small

Freshman Democratic House-members elect Karen Horn of Oklahoma, at left, Anthony Delgado of New York and Lucy McBath of Georgia (file photos).

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: The Resistance Strikes Back, Michelle Goldberg, Nov. 10, 2018. Two years of progressive organizing built the blue wave.

In April 2017, progressives across America turned toward Georgia’s Sixth District for the race to fill the House seat vacated by Tom Price, who’d become President Trump’s (short-lived) secretary of health and human services. That affluent, highly educated district in Atlanta’s northern suburbs had been solidly Republican for decades; Newt Gingrich had held it for 20 years, and Price won his 2016 election by more than 23 percentage points. But Trump had prevailed there only narrowly, and Democrats dreamed of using the special election to rebuke him.

Money poured in from all over the country for the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff. It became the most expensive House contest in history. He lost. Afterward, people complained — often on cable TV — that Democrats had squandered their money. But last week, some of that investment finally paid off.

democratic donkey logoOn Thursday we learned that a year and a half after Ossoff’s loss, Lucy McBath [shown above], an African-American gun control advocate, had flipped the seat.
McBath’s victory was emblematic of the Resistance triumphs in the midterms. The steady work of citizens who’ve been trying, over the last two years, to fight the civic nightmare of Trumpism bore fruit. It was a slog, pockmarked with disappointments.

nra logo CustomMcBath’s victory was especially sweet. She’d become an activist after the 2012 murder of her son, Jordan Davis, by a white man who, angry over loud music, shot up a car Davis was riding in. Running in her son’s memory, she beat an incumbent with a top rating from the National Rifle Association in a largely white district.

As I write this, Democrats have flipped at least 30 House seats, and their total haul could go as high as 40. Democrats virtually wiped out the Republican Party in the Northeast, but they also won new seats in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and South Carolina. The party is on track to make more gains in the House than it has in any election since Watergate's aftermath. Across the country, Democrats flipped at least 333 statehouse seats, a third of all those lost over the course of Obama’s presidency.

Trump's AG Pick: Unfit?

cnn logoCNN, Whitaker's controversial prosecution of a gay Democrat, Drew Griffin, Collette Richards and Patricia DiCarlo, Nov. 10, 2018. When Iowa state Sen. Matt McCoy, right, learned matt mccoy iowaDonald Trump had appointed Matthew Whitaker to be acting attorney general of the United States, he was aghast -- he believes Whitaker was behind a politically motivated prosecution that was personally "devastating" to him.

Whitaker has been facing questions from reporters about whether the case was politically motivated since the day the indictment was announced in 2007. An editorial in the Des Moines Register soon after McCoy was acquitted called for the government to compensate McCoy for his legal fees and questioned, "Was the McCoy prosecution a product of poor judgment, inexperience, misplaced zeal or partisan politicking? Perhaps all of the above."

washington post logoWashington Post, There is no way this man should be running the Justice Department, Editorial Board, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Is Matthew G. Whitaker the legitimate acting attorney general?

matthew whitaker headshot recentFrom approximately the second President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tapped Mr. Whitaker, right, to temporarily exercise the office’s vast authority, legal experts have sparred over whether Mr. Trump can unilaterally elevate someone from a role that does not require Senate confirmation to one that does.

But regardless of whether the promotion is legal, it is very clear that it is unwise. Mr. Whitaker is unfit for the job.

Several prominent legal scholars point out that the Constitution demands that “principal officers” of the United States must undergo Senate confirmation. The Senate above all should be offended by the president’s end run around its authority.

And Mr. Whitaker is worse than random. It took less than 24 hours for material to emerge suggesting he could not survive even a rudimentary vetting.

  • First, there are Mr. Whitaker’s statements criticizing the Russia probe of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
  • Then there is Mr. Whitaker’s connection to a defunct patent promotion company the Federal Trade Commission called “an invention-promotion scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” Mr. Whitaker served on its board and once threatened a complaining customer, lending the weight of his former position as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa to the company’s scheme.
  • Finally, and fundamentally most damning, is Mr. Whitaker’s expressed hostility to Marbury v. Madison, a central case — the central case — in the American constitutional system. It established an indispensable principle: The courts decide what is and is not constitutional. Without Marbury, there would be no effective judicial check on the political branches, no matter how egregious their actions.

If the Senate were consulted, it is impossible to imagine Mr. Whitaker getting close to the attorney general’s office. He should not be there now.

Guardian, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, Jon Swaine, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Matthew Whitaker, a former US attorney in Iowa, was paid to work as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing (WPM), a Florida-based company accused by the US government of tricking aspiring inventors out of millions of dollars. Earlier this year, it was ordered to pay authorities $26m.

In related news, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday FBI Is Investigating Florida Company Where Whitaker Was Advisory-Board Member. Details below.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Here comes Donald Trump’s Attorney General head-fake, Bill Palmer, Nov. 10, 2018. Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and temporarily replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. It’s already clear that the scandal-a-minute Whitaker isn’t long for the position, and that Trump will have to nominate someone else to be the new permanent Attorney General in January. Accordingly, some names are being publicly floated. Don’t believe it.

Here’s the thing. Even though the Republicans are going to retain control of the Senate, any Attorney General nominee is still going to face tough and potentially damaging questions from Senate Democrats during nationally televised hearings. That alone can derail things. For instance, while the Democrats weren’t able to stop Sessions’ confirmation in early 2017, they were able to get him to commit perjury, which resulted in him having to recuse himself, which ended up being Trump’s worst nightmare.

For that matter, Trump didn’t even bother to nominate Rudy Giuliani to his cabinet in early 2017, for fear that the Democratic cross-examination during confirmation hearings would expose Rudy’s role in the Trump-Russia election rigging scandal. So don’t look for Trump to nominate anyone who could make things worse for him – or worse for themselves – during a bruising confirmation battle. In that context, the names being floated right now are almost laughable.

Donald Trump’s people are telling multiple major news outlets that Chris Christie is on the Attorney General shortlist. But Christie was on the Trump transition team, which has since been exposed as having known about Michael Flynn’s illegal transition-period coordination with the Russian Ambassador. Outgoing Florida AG Pam Bondi is also supposedly on the short list, but she took a campaign donation from Trump in exchange for not pursuing the Trump University scandal.

These are not the kind of people Donald Trump wants to put through an Attorney General confirmation process. So why is he even floating their names? He wants us to get up in arms about the prospect of Christie, or Bondi, or Rudy, or Bigfoot, or whoever he’ll float next. That way, by the time he nominates some obscure henchman, we’ll be more likely to simply accept it, because at least it won’t be some big hated name.

At least that’s how he thinks it’ll go. The key for the Resistance is to fight this one all the way to the end. Trump doesn’t get to have a new Attorney General.

Reporter's Murder By Saudis

washington post logoWashington Post, Audio of Khashoggi’s killing given to U.S., Saudi, Europeans, Erdogan says, Loveday Morris and Louisa Loveluck​, Nov. 10, 2018. Saudi journalist Jamal jamal khashoggi western suitKhashoggi, right, a contributor to The Post, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say the recording from inside the consulate in Istanbul captures his death.

The tape is a critical piece of evidence that Turkey says backs up its assertion that Khashoggi, right, was killed by a Saudi hit team after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia now acknowledges that Khashoggi was killed, but its internal investigation has not implicated leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

Trump On World Stage

washington post logoemmanuel macronWashington Post, Macron and Trump meet in Paris amid strain over Iran, Syria and climate change, David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley, Nov. 10, 2018. President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, right, met Saturday amid tensions over Macron’s call for a “true European army” — remarks the U.S. president deemed “very insulting” moments after he landed here for World War I commemoration ceremonies this weekend.

There were some visible signs of strain between the two men Saturday even as they exchanged warm words at the start of their bilateral meeting at Elysee Palace.

U.S. Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, MS-13 associate sentenced to 40 years in prison in videotaped slaying of 15-year-old girl, Justin Jouvenal, Nov. 10, 2018. Venus Romero Iraheta orchestrated the killing of Damaris Reyes Rivas as part of a revenge plot.

A judge imposed a sentence of 40 years in prison on Iraheta, the most high-profile defendant in a slaying so horrific it drew national attention and was used by the Trump administration to grimly highlight the resurgence of MS-13 in the Washington area and beyond. Ten associates of MS-13 have been convicted of the vicious attack in wooded areas.

More On AG's Vet Scam Scandal

matthew whitaker agGuardian, Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings, Jon Swaine, Nov. 10, 2018 (print edition). Matthew Whitaker, right, a former US attorney in Iowa, was paid to work as an advisory board member for World Patent Marketing (WPM), a Florida-based company accused by the US government of tricking aspiring inventors out of millions of dollars. Earlier this year, it was ordered to pay authorities $26m. Continued from excerpt above.

Several veterans, two of them with disabilities, said they lost tens of thousands of dollars in the WPM scam, having been enticed into paying for patenting and licensing services by the impressive credentials of Whitaker and his fellow advisers. None said they dealt with Whitaker directly.

“World Patent Marketing has devastated me emotionally, mentally and financially,” Melvin Kiaaina, of Hawaii, told a federal court last year, adding that he trusted the firm with his life savings in part because it “had respected people on the board of directors”.

  • Matthew Whitaker was paid advisory board member for WPM
  • Veteran: ‘I spent the money on a dream. I lost everything’

The 60-year-old said he was a disabled veteran US army paratrooper and paid the company in 2015 and 2016 to patent and promote his ideas for fishing equipment.

“I received nothing for the $14,085 I paid to the company, other than a bad quality drawing and logo that my grandson could have made,” he said.

Kiaaina and other WPM customers described their experiences in declarations to court written under penalty of perjury, as part of a civil lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against WPM and its chief executive, Scott Cooper. Emails filed as evidence to the case showed desperate customers begging Cooper and his team for their money back.

“You have caused me tremendous grief, I can’t sleep, my stress level is at an all-time high and the last of my savings has been stolen with nothing to show for it,” one unemployed widow, who lost $8,000, wrote to Cooper in December 2016. Another inventor who paid $12,000 said he was left with “a stress related condition that is eating away at my hair”.

In particular, WPM promoted itself as a champion of those who served in the military. “Not only do we honor the veterans and soldiers of our armed forces but we are also celebrating what they are protecting - the American dream,” it said in a statement timed for Veterans Day 2014, which highlighted Whitaker’s role at the firm. WPM claimed to have made an unspecified donation to the Wounded Warrior Project nonprofit, which did not respond to an email seeking confirmation of the payment.

Another WPM client, Ryan Masti, who served in the navy and suffers from dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), said a WPM representative boasted of the company’s connections to Whitaker and Mast in a promotional telephone call that persuaded him to hand over money.

Masti told the court he lost more than $75,000 after paying WPM to register, develop and promote his idea for “Socially Accepted”, a social network aimed at people with disabilities. He said that in return he received only a press release, a logo and a shoddy website template.Advertisement

Whitaker publicly vouched for WPM, claiming in a December 2014 statement it went “beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate[d] those words into action.” He said: “I would only align myself with a first-class organisation.”

But customers reported to authorities that they had been treated unethically by a company that, beneath its glossy marketing pamphlets, was a shabby operation.

Having voted for Trump enthusiastically in 2016, Masti said on Friday he would soon be changing his party affiliation to Democratic, following the president’s elevation of Whitaker.

“It’s totally ridiculous,” said Masti. “It makes the whole Republican party look so bad. How could a president appoint someone like this? And then not have a problem about it when it comes out? He should be taking care of the victims.”

U.S. Freedom To Advocate

Holland Sentinel (Michigan), Opinion: US colleges and universities are right to protest Israel's anti-Palestinian policies, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 10, 2018. Backing the plight of the Palestinian people, particularly during a time when the Trump administration encourages further annexation of Palestinian territory by Israel's current far-right government, is a worthy cause adopted by many institutions of higher learning.

Academic and campus organizations in the United States are opposing attempts to stifle student and faculty activism against current Israeli policies.

These include legislative moves at the federal and state levels to criminalize both the boycott of illegal Israeli settlements and advocacy for Palestinian rights by labeling them "anti-Semitic." Any such criminalization, obviously is glaringly unconstitutional.

Nov. 9

Trump's New Attorney General

Vox, Exclusive: Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker was counseling the White House on investigating Clinton, Murray Waas Nov 9, 2018. Whitaker advised the president on launching a new special counsel while working as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

matthew whitaker screengrabMatthew Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump named as his acting attorney general on Wednesday, privately provided advice to the president last year on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to investigate the president’s political adversaries, Vox has learned.

Whitaker (shown in a file photo) was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before he became the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017. That has rightfully raised concerns that Whitaker might now attempt to sabotage Mueller’s investigation. But new information suggests that Whitaker — while working for Sessions — advocated on behalf of, and attempted to facilitate, Trump’s desire to exploit the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the president’s enemies.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump demanded that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into whether the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” his presidential campaign and whether Obama administration officials were involved in this purported effort. Trump, his Republican allies in Congress, and conservative news organizations — most notably Fox News — were making such claims and amplifying those of others, even though they offered scant evidence, if any, that these allegations were true.

Sessions, Rosenstein, and other senior department officials believed that if they agreed to Trump’s wishes, doing so would constitute an improper politicization of the department that would set a dangerous precedent for Trump — or any future president — to exploit the powerful apparatus of the DOJ and FBI to investigate their political adversaries. Those efforts, in turn, coincided with the president’s campaign to undermine Mueller’s investigation into whether the president’s campaign aides, White House advisers, and members of his own family colluded with Russian to help Trump win the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general was paid by firm the FTC called a ‘scam,’ Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr., Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Former customers of World Patent Marketing, which was forced to pay a settlement and cease operations, expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

When federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa.

matthew whitaker agIt is unclear how Whitaker, shown at right, — who was appointed acting attorney general by President Trump on Wednesday — responded to a Federal Trade Commission subpoena to his law firm.

In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.

In May of this year, a federal court in Florida ordered the company to pay a settlement of more than $25 million and close up shop, records show. The company did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

Whitaker’s sudden elevation this week to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions has put new scrutiny on his involvement with the shuttered company, whose advisory board he joined in 2014, shortly after making a failed run for U.S. Senate in Iowa.

At the time, he was also running a conservative watchdog group with ties to other powerful nonprofits on the right and was beginning to develop a career as a Trump-friendly cable television commentator.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, FBI Is Investigating Florida Company Where Whitaker Was Advisory-Board Member, Mark Maremont and James V. Grimaldi, Nov. 9, 2018. Active case is being handled by FBI Miami office; acting attorney general oversees FBI.

fbi logoThe Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal investigation of a Florida company accused of scamming millions from customers during the period that Matthew Whitaker, the acting U.S. attorney general, served as a paid advisory-board member, according to an alleged victim who was contacted by the FBI and other people familiar with the matter.

The investigation is being handled by the Miami office of the FBI and by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker,’ Despite Several Oval Office Visits, Matthew G. Whitaker, Eileen Sullivan and Katie Benner, Nov. 9, 2018. The acting attorney general chosen by President Trump, is said to have easy chemistry with the president. Mr. Whitaker now oversees the Russia inquiry, which he said has gone too far and should not be permitted to investigate the president’s finances.

President Trump went out of his way on Friday to distance himself from Matthew G. Whitaker, his choice to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, saying repeatedly that he did not know Mr. Whitaker and had not spoken to him and emphasizing that the new attorney general was merely “there in an acting position.”

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he left Washington for a weekend trip to Paris. But the president stressed that he did know Mr. Whitaker’s reputation well, calling him “a very respected man.”

The faint presidential praise came just two days after Mr. Trump unceremoniously dumped Mr. Sessions, putting Mr. Whitaker in charge of the Justice Department and the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Since then, criticism has mounted about Mr. Whitaker’s lack of credentials to be the nation’s top law enforcement official, along with allegations that he has conflicts of interest that should keep him from overseeing the Russia inquiry.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s top Democrat, sent a letter to Mr. Trump on Friday saying that the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was chief of staff to Mr. Sessions, was unconstitutional.

See also below:

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

washington post logoWashington Post, As a Senate candidate, Whitaker said he won’t support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch,’ Michael Kranish and Robert Barnes​, Nov. 9, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful 2014 run, have drawn new scrutiny since he was named acting attorney general.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional, Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation. Mr. Katyal and Mr. Conway are prominent appellate lawyers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker panics and locks down his Twitter account after his scandals explode, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Donald Trump, the only thing more consistent than his dirty scheming is the fact that he never bothers to do his homework before putting his schemes in motion.

The Atlantic, Opinion: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller, Benjamin Wittes (Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Nov. 9, 2018. The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Mueller probe could be in mortal danger, Harry Litman, Nov. 9, 2018. Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and practices law at the firm Constantine Cannon. He was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2001 and deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1998.

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general once promoted a company accused of deceiving clients, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Nov. 8, 2018. Former customers of World Patent Marketing expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Matthew Whitaker has experience advising con artists. Will he help more under Trump? Catherine Rampell, Nov. 8, 2018. But maybe Whitaker really was picked because he has experience advising con artists. Whitaker, after all, was involved with a Miami-based firm that federal regulators shut down last year as an alleged scam. The firm, World Patent Marketing, promised aspiring inventors that it would patent and market their brainchildren, based on what a 17-page Federal Trade Commission complaint characterized as bogus “success stories” and other false claims.

DeSmog, Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years, Sharon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2018. Whitaker was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

“In other words, an organization ‘dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency’ gets 100 percent of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a vehicle for donors to elude transparency,” the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in 2016.

In 2014, FACT received $600,000 from DonorsTrust — the only donation it reported that year, according to An additional $500,000 flowed from DonorsTrust to FACT in 2015. And in 2016, DonorsTrust gave $800,000 to FACT, tax records show, as well as two additional donations, one for $100,000 and another for $450,000. That $2.45 million represents virtually all of FACT's entire reported receipts for those years (except for a total of $456 from 2015 to 2016).

In 2016, Whitaker earned $402,000 as FACT’s director and president, according to the organization’s tax filings. That followed reported compensation from FACT for Whitaker of $63,000 in 2014, and $252,000 in 2015.

His work included advocacy for causes backed by the fossil fuel industry.

Mass Shooting

cnn logoCNN, Thousand Oaks gunman went from Marine vet to mass shooter. Investigators want to know why, Nicole Chavez and Holly Yan, Nov. 9, 2018. After a Marine Corps veteran stormed into a country music dance hall in California and killed 12 people, investigators said there is no clear motive behind the attack.

ian long croppedAuthorities say Ian Long, 28, right, fired a Glock .45-caliber handgun without a word as patrons line-danced at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday night. He first shot a security guard and a woman working at the counter, but authorities say there was no indication he was targeting employees.

Hours after Long was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police searched for clues at the home where he lived with his mother. As investigators dig for answers, loved ones and strangers mourn the victims -- including some now known as heroes.

Hours after Long was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police searched for clues at the home where he lived with his mother. As investigators dig for answers, loved ones and strangers mourn the victims -- including some now known as heroes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deaths of guard and sheriff’s deputy fuel debate over active-shooter defenses, Justin Jouvenal and Alex Horton, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The Ventura County mass shooting that left 12 dead Wednesday became a grim test case in a persistent debate about how places such as schools, nightclubs and houses of worship should ian long new york post coversteel themselves against shooters and how police should respond to them.

The massacre (whose aftermath is portrayed at left), and others like it in recent months, show how difficult devising an effective strategy to head off an attack can be — and the exceptionally high cost it can exact on those on the front lines.

The gunman began his rampage by shooting an unarmed security guard outside a country-music bar in California, police said. After the attacker began firing on patrons inside, a sergeant with the sheriff’s office charged into the building to confront him and was cut down by gunfire.

The debate has gained urgency during the past year, as President Trump and others have repeatedly said security guards — specifically armed ones — could have prevented the nation’s mass shootings; earlier this year, Trump tweeted his support for the controversial idea of arming teachers.

California Tragedies: 6 Deaths So Far

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The Whole World Was on Fire’: Infernos Choke California, Thomas Fuller, Jennifer Medina and Jose A. Del Real, Nov. 9, 2018. The fire-prone state was battling three major blazes, one in the northern Sierra and two west of Los Angeles. Thousands of people have fled and hundreds of buildings have burned. At least six people have been killed.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘It Really Can’t Get Much Worse’: After Shooting, City Faces Fire, Jennifer Medina, Jose A. Del Real and Tim Arango, Nov. 9, 2018. Residents of Thousand Oaks had just begun to mourn the 12 people killed on Wednesday when wildfires forced some who had survived the attack to evacuate.

Only hours after a gunman attacked a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, the city was once again struck with panic. This time, fire forced the evacuation of the town still reeling from the devastating shooting.

Residents in Thousand Oaks had just begun to mourn the 12 people killed late Wednesday at the Borderline Bar & Grill when the second crisis this week set the city on edge. For hours after the shooting, people crowded into the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, anxious to find out if their loved ones had survived. It was well past lunchtime before it began to empty out. But by midnight, it was crowded again — this time as a fire evacuation center.

U.S. Political Culture

washington post logoWashington Post, In new memoir, Michelle Obama blasts Trump over birther theory and ‘Access’ tape, Krissah Thompson, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The first lady’s book is not a Washington read full of gossip and political score-settling. But she does lay bare her deep, quaking disdain for President Trump, going so far as to write that her “body buzzed with fury” at one point.

michelle obama becoming cover horizontalAs Michelle Obama’s highly anticipated memoir Becoming arrives, it’s clear that the former first lady is occupying a space in the culture beyond politics. With an arena book tour featuring A-list special guests, she seems to exist in the middle ground between two icons she calls friends, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Her approach is short of Winfrey’s full-on confessional style but goes further than the guarded intimacy of Knowles-Carter’s art and performances.

Her book walks a similar line. It’s revealing, right down to the glossy cover photo in a casual white top — one shoulder exposed, eyes bright. (Spoiler: It’s not the kind of shirt a soon-to-be political candidate wears.) But Obama, who was famously guarded as first lady, still values her privacy — even as she offers frank opinions about Donald Trump and discloses past fertility struggles.

“I don’t think anybody will be necessarily prepared to read a memoir like this — especially coming from a first lady,” said Shonda Rhimes, the television producer, who read an advance copy of Obama’s book.

ny times logoNew York Times, In 'Becoming,' Michelle Obama Mostly Opts for Empowerment Over Politics, Jennifer Szalai, Nov. 9, 2018. For anyone who’s wondering: No, she’s not running. In her new memoir, Becoming — a book whose reportedly enormous advance rendered its contents almost as closely guarded as the bullion at Fort Knox — Michelle Obama puts to rest any speculation about her political ambitions. “I’ve never been a fan of politics,” she writes, “and my experience over the last 10 years has done little to change that.”

Note how she says “the last 10 years,” not two. She emerges in these pages as a first lady who steadfastly believed in her husband’s abilities but had no illusions that the sludge of partisanship and racism would melt away under the sunny slogans of hope and change. A month after President Obama started his first term in 2009, Michelle Obama was sitting in the balcony during a joint session of Congress, where she could see a cadre of Republicans scowling while her husband delivered his address. “They would fight everything Barack did, I realized, whether it was good for the country or not.” She continues, “It seemed they just wanted Barack to fail.”

This might sound like the acuity of hindsight if it weren’t consistent with the woman she had already shown herself to be: Michelle, the wry, orderly realist to the dreamy, cerebral Barack, joking on the 2008 campaign trail about her husband’s slovenly habits in the real world. She also talked candidly then about how the popular enthusiasm for him and his message — in a country in which the prospect of a black president had seemed far-fetched even to her — made her feel. “For the first time in my adult lifetime,” she told a crowd before the Wisconsin primaries, “I’m really proud of my country.”

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Michael Rothfeld,
Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus, Nov. 9, 2018. Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence of president’s participation in transactions that violated campaign-finance laws.

david pecker croppedAs a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

djt Karen McDougal Donald Trump youtubeLess than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal (shown with Trump at left), to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.

djt stormy daniels 2006Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star [widely reported to be Stormy Daniels, shown at right in a file photo]. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.

The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

On Thursday, the White House referred questions about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush deals to the president’s outside counsel Jay Sekulow, who declined to comment.

In an Oct. 23 interview with the Journal, Mr. Trump declined to address whether he had ever discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen during the campaign.

“Nobody cares about that,” he said. He described Mr. Cohen as a “public-relations person” who “represented me on very small things.”

Roll Call, Donald Trump’s Trans-Atlantic Tweetstorm on Air Force One, John T. Bennett, Nov. 9, 2018. President said he was focused on ‘the world.’ He spent hours attacking domestic foes. President Donald Trump assured reporters as he left the White House Friday morning for Paris he was “thinking about the world.” Only, he wasn’t.

The president and first lady Melania Trump boarded Marine One just before 9:30 a.m. and lifted off to link up with Air Force One a few minutes later. By 10 a.m., the executive jet was wheels up for a diplomatic trip to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Before the roughly six-hour flight to Paris, any global focus of the diplomat in chief appeared to have been discarded on the South Lawn, where he took a list of questions from reporters on his way out.

Before Air Force One had made much progress crossing the Atlantic, Trump’s worldly thoughts had given way to an hourslong trans-Atlantic Twitter rant about exclusively domestic topics, including his political foes. Other world leaders he will see in Paris, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, were not mentioned.

The GOP president, whose base is mostly white and conservative and who is hammered regularly by critics for spouting racial “dog whistles,” mused just after 12:30 p.m. Eastern time about vote-counting issues in Florida’s Broward County. Never reluctant to espouse conspiracy theories, Trump wrote, “How come they never find Republican votes?” — referring to what he called the “Broward Effect.”

To find one answer, Trump could have had his staff seek out U.S. Census Bureau and Florida Department of State data about Broward’s demographics. For instance, the bureau found the county’s population is 64 percent white — but African-Americans and Latinos combine for 60 percent of residents. Both those groups largely vote Democratic. And the state office’s website says Broward has 249,822 registered Republicans and 586,833 registered Democrats.

2018 Elections Update

washington post logoWashington Post, Democratic candidates in Florida pull into recount range as state again is epicenter of post-election fight over ballots, Michael Scherer, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Republicans maintain a narrowing lead in the U.S. Senate and governor’s races as votes continue to be counted. Nearly two decades after hanging chads transfixed the nation, rick scottFlorida is once again headed toward a high-stakes election recount, as vote margins narrowed in Democrats’ favor Thursday in the state’s marquee U.S. Senate and governor’s races.

Hundreds of party and interest-group volunteers spent the day trying to track down people who had cast provisional ballots, seeking affidavits to prove their votes should be counted. And in an echo of the 2000 presidential election, state Republicans tried to preempt the coming fight by accusing Democratic lawyers of democratic donkey logoheading to Broward County to “steal” the election.

In the Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott (R), above right, had a lead of just more than 15,000 votes, or 0.18 percent, over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) as of Thursday night. In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) trailed former congressman Ron DeSantis (R) by more than 36,000 votes, or 0.44 percent.

washington post logodave bratWashington Post, The Republican who toppled Cantor ran timidly this time in Virginia’s 7th District, Laura Vozzella, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). Rep. Dave Brat, the little-known economics professor who toppled then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 and presaged the rise of populism and Donald Trump, held few events during his failed reelection bid and was a no-show at his own election-night party.

abigail spanberger twitterThis year, up against the suburban rage unleashed by Trump’s presidency, the congressman seemed skittish. After Democratic protesters shouted him down at two town hall meetings last year, Brat, right, stuck to tightly scripted public appearances. Campaign events were mostly closed to the media and publicized only after the fact; he last advertised one on Facebook in July.

The winner was former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger, left.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Arizona Senate race, Democrat takes narrow lead as vote count continues, John Wagner and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 9, 2018. Questions of uncounted ballots remain in gubernatorial races in Georgia, Florida. Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema has taken a narrow lead over Republican opponent Martha McSally in the Arizona kyrsten sinema oSenate race as officials continue to tally mail-in ballots — a change in fortunes that could narrow the size of the GOP martha mcsally omajority next year.

Sinema, right, now leads McSally, 49.1 percent to 48.6 percent, according to results provided by election officials at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. The two congresswomen were separated by just 9,610 ballots cast statewide, with a Green Party candidate lagging far behind.

McSally, left had consistently led in the count since Tuesday’s midterm elections, but more than 400,000 ballots remained outstanding as of Thursday night, leaving the race in flux in a state where about three-quarters of voters cast ballots by mail.

Mass Shooting

ny times logoNew York Times, Many Who Fled California Attack Were Survivors of Las Vegas Massacre, Jose A. Del Real, Jennifer Medina and Tim Arango, Nov. 8, 2018. Country music was blaring and beer was flowing. The Lakers game was on the television, and if revelers weren’t line dancing they were playing pool. Then all of a sudden, into “College Country Night!” at the Borderline Bar & Grill stepped a man with a gun.

Wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap, he set off smoke bombs to create confusion. He shot a security guard at the entrance and then opened fire into the crowd. Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

And as they raced for safety, many of them thought, Not again.

Just last year, they had fled the same chaos — gunshots, bodies falling — in Las Vegas, at a country music festival where 58 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The Borderline, a popular hangout for country music fans, had become a place of solace for dozens of survivors of the Vegas massacre to come together for music, for healing and for remembering — “to celebrate life,” in the words of one.

And now, at least some of them belong to a group that seems uniquely American: survivors of two mass shootings.

“This is the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” Nicholas Champion, a fitness trainer from Southern California who posted a group photo on Facebook of Vegas survivors gathering at the Borderline in April, said in a television interview. “I was at the Las Vegas Route 91 mass shooting as well as probably 50 or 60 others who were in the building at the same time as me tonight.”

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a major blow to Trump, Fred Barbash, Allyson Chiu and Juliet Eilperin​, Nov. 9, 2018. A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for brian morris 2014the 1,200-mile long project designed to connect Canada’s oil sands fields with Texas' Gulf Coast refineries.

The judge, Brian Morris, right, of the U.S. District Court in Montana, said the State Department ignored crucial issues of climate change in order to further the president’s goal of letting the pipeline be built. In doing so, the administration ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires “reasoned” explanations for government decisions, particularly when they represent reversals of well-studied actions.

It was a major defeat for Trump, who attacked the Obama administration for stopping the project in the face of protests and an environmental impact study. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as another major pipeline, Dakota Access.

More On New Attorney General

ben wittes brookingsThe Atlantic, Opinion: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller, Benjamin Wittes (right, Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), Nov. 9, 2018. The prospects for interference are dimmer than many imagine.

Eighteen months ago, I said, President Donald Trump had an opportunity to disrupt the Russia investigation: He had fired the FBI director and had rocked the Justice Department back on its heels. But Trump had dithered. He had broadcast his intentions too many times. And in the meantime, Mueller had moved decisively, securing important indictments and convictions, and making whatever preparations were necessary for hostile fire. And now Democrats were poised to take the House of Representatives. The window of opportunity was gone.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Mueller probe could be in mortal danger, Harry Litman, Nov. 9, 2018. Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego and practices law at the firm Constantine Cannon. He was U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2001 and deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1998.

How serious is the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions and the installation of his chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as acting attorney general? And what does it portend for the Mueller probe and related investigations?

The first question is easy: It is as serious as a heart attack. Whitaker’s appointment, which President Trump effectuated before all of the midterm election results were even final, immediately divested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein of his oversight authority of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, As a Senate candidate, Whitaker said he won’t support ‘secular’ judicial nominees and courts should be ‘inferior branch,’ Michael Kranish and Robert Barnes​, Nov. 9, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful 2014 run, have drawn new scrutiny since he was named acting attorney general.

Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker has said that judges should have a “biblical view,” that he could not support nominees who are “secular” and declared that federal courts should be the “inferior branch” of government.

Whitaker’s comments, made during an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2014, have drawn new scrutiny since President Trump named him Wednesday to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In an April 25, 2014, debate, moderator Erick Erickson asked the candidates about their faith. Whitaker said that, if elected, he would want judges who “have a biblical view of justice, which I think is very important …”

Erickson interjected: “Levitical or New Testament?”

“I’m a New Testament,” Whitaker answered, according to an account at the time in the Des Moines Register. “And what I know is as long as they have that world view, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular world view, where this is all we have here on Earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about that judge.”

ny times logocharlie savageNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, right, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

In a Q. and A. when he sought the Republican nomination for senator in Iowa in 2014, Mr. Whitaker indicated that he shared the belief among some conservatives that the federal judiciary has too much power over public policy. He criticized many of the Supreme Court’s rulings, beginning with a foundational one: Marbury v. Madison, which established its power of judicial review in 1803.

“There are so many” bad rulings, Mr. Whitaker said. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues.”

The interview was among evidence that shed new light on Mr. Whitaker’s views, including disparagement of the Russia investigation, which he now oversees, and an expansive view of presidential power. Congressional aides, journalists and other observers scoured his record after Mr. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him with Mr. Whitaker, instantly raising questions about whether the president wanted a loyalist in charge at the Justice Department with the power to end the Russia investigation.

Groups throughout the nation marched on Thursday to support the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and to protest Mr. Whitaker’s appointment. Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities, including in Washington, Philadelphia, Omaha and Salt Lake City.

In New York, about 4,000 people marched from Times Square to Union Square, the police said. Protesters held signs and chanted “Trump is not above the law.” On Twitter, #ProtectMueller was trending.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Mueller Has a Way Around Trump and His Minions, Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton, Nov. 9, 2018. A road map from the Watergate prosecution shows a potential route for the special counsel to send incriminating evidence directly to Congress.

Whitaker Appointment Unconstitutional?

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional, Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation. Mr. neal katyal oKatyal, shown at left, and Mr. Conway, shown below at right via his Twitter photo (and husband of Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway), are prominent appellate lawyers.

What now seems an eternity ago, the conservative law professor Steven Calabresi published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in May arguing that Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional. His article got a lot of attention, and it wasn’t long before President Trump picked up the argument, george conway twittertweeting that “the Appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Professor Calabresi’s article was based on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. Under that provision, so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.

He argued that Mr. Mueller was a principal officer because he is exercising significant law enforcement authority and that since he has not been confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was unconstitutional. As one of us argued at the time, he was wrong. What makes an officer a principal officer is that he or she reports only to the president. No one else in government is that person’s boss. But Mr. Mueller reports to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. So, Mr. Mueller is what is known as an inferior officer, not a principal one, and his appointment without Senate approval was valid.

matthew whitaker agBut Professor Calabresi and Mr. Trump were right about the core principle. A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate. And that has a very significant consequence today.

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker, shown left in a new official photo, as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker panics and locks down his Twitter account after his scandals explode, Bill Palmer, Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Donald Trump, the only thing more consistent than his dirty scheming is the fact that he never bothers to do his homework before putting his schemes in motion.

We all know why he named Matthew Whitaker as his new Acting Attorney General: the guy has already said he thinks the Trump-Russia investigation should be shut down. But the part Trump missed, or doesn’t understand the importance of, is that Whitaker is a disaster in a thousand other ways.

It’s not just that Matthew Whitaker has gone on national television and pre-confessed to the obstruction of justice he intends to commit, making it much easier for the Democrats to build a case for forcing him to recuse himself. It’s that Whitaker is a complete train wreck in every way imaginable. For instance he was part of a scam company that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission last year. That’s right, Trump’s own federal government has already busted Whitaker and branded him a criminal, but Trump doesn’t seem to know or care. It gets worse.

After Democratic political operative Adam Parkhomenko began exposing Matthew Whitaker’s older pro-Russia tweets yesterday, Whitaker hit the panic button and locked down his Twitter account so that the public couldn’t see any of his old tweets. Those who visited Whitaker’s account last night were greeted with this message: “This account’s Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access to @MattWhitaker46’s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.”

If Matthew Whitaker has done this with the intention of deleting his scandalous older tweets, he’s going to be disappointed to learn that public internet archive services already have caches of his old tweets, and he can’t delete those. In any case, the Acting Attorney General of the United States just locked down his Twitter account because his scandals are exploding so severely. That’s beyond precedent. He just made it even easier for the Democrats to use his scandals to push him out of a job.

More on 2018 Elections

OpEdNews, Opinion: Ten Midterm Takeaways, Bob Burnett (Berkeley writer and previously one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems), Nov. 9, 2018. The results of the 2018 midterm election are in. Democrats achieved some, but not all, of their objectives. Here are ten takeaways from the November 6th results.

1. The Resistance worked.

2. Nonetheless, a lot of work remains to be done.

democratic donkey logo3. Big voter turnout didn't necessarily translate into wins. The New York Times estimates, "Approximately 114 million votes were cast in U.S. House races in 2018, compared to 83 million in 2014." A record 80 million voters participated in Senate contests -- not all states had a Senate race. Democrats cast 57 percent of the votes and still lost 3 seats.(!) Because Republicans turned out where they had to. For example, in Texas, Democrats had an excellent candidate, Beto O'Rourke, and Republicans had a loathsome candidate, Ted Cruz. Democrats turned out in record numbers -- more than 4 million voters -- but Cruz won (50.8 percent) because Republican voters also turned out.

Roll Call, Election Day +3: Here are the 13 House and 2 Senate Uncalled Races, Staff report, Nov. 9, 2018. Some races going to recounts, one is going to court. Three days after Election Day, two Senate and 13 House races remain uncalled, and if the 2000 presidential race is an indication, we could be waiting weeks for the outcome of one of those Senate races. A third race in the Senate will be decided later this month when Mississippi votes in a runoff for Tuesday’s top two finishers.

House Democrats have already passed the threshold for a majority that they haven’t held since 2010. Based on current projections, they could obtain as many as 234 seats — good for a 33-seat majority — though it is more likely they’ll land somewhere around 228 seats for a still-significant 21-seat margin.

In the Senate, the GOP flipped seats in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri — states that President Donald Trump won by double digits in 2016 — over to their side.

Here are the races yet to be called by noon Friday that will determine the size of the Republicans’ majority in the Senate and the Democrats’ in the House:

Senate: Florida

bill nelsonThe race for the Senate seat in Florida has turned into a nasty battle of accusations as it is likely to go to a recount. After three terms in the upper chamber, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, right, conceded to Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott just after midnight Wednesday, but as the margin between the two narrowed later in the day Nelson called for a recount.

Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committee sued Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes Thursday for failing to turn over information about ballots that have been counted. Scott also called for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Investigation into Broward’s handling of ballots.

Trump accused Broward County officials with “finding votes out of nowhere” as he left the White House Friday morning for a trip to Paris for an Armistice Day celebration.

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Senate: Arizona

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema holds a lead of less than a point over GOP Rep. Martha McSally with almost all precincts reporting. Absentee and provisional ballots will also add to the vote totals over the next few days.

Senate: Mississippi

The race for Mississippi’s junior Senate seat has been called, but there will not be a declared winner until a Nov. 27 runoff election. GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and former Democratic Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy advanced to the runoff after Hyde-Smith failed to reach the 50 percent threshold for an outright victory. Republican Chris McDaniel siphoned off 16.4 percent of the vote from Hyde-Smith.

Press TV, U.S. midterm elections fallout, Guests: Michael Springmann (American Author and Attorney); Don DeBar (Activist and Commentator), Nov. 9, 2018 (21:59 mins.). Justice Integrity Project views cited at 11:58 min. mark.

carol miller west virginiaRoll Call, Meet Carol Miller. She Could Be the Only New Republican Woman Coming to Congress Next Year, Simone Pathé, Nov. 9, 2018. Among the 33 new women elected to the House this week, only one is a Republican.

Carol Miller, right, the majority whip in the West Virginia state House and daughter of a former Ohio congressman, won the Mountain State’s 3rd District seat Tuesday night, defeating Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda.

Although she’s replacing a man (GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins didn’t run for re-election) Miller is joining a Republican conference with significantly fewer women than the current Congress.

Indonesian Air Disaster

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: From 5,000 Feet to Shattered in Seconds: What Caused a Jet’s Fatal Plunge? Hannah Beech and Keith Bradsher, Nov. 9, 2018 (print edition). The final moments of Lion Air Flight 610 as it hurtled from a calm Indonesian sky into the sea on Oct. 29 would have been terrifying but swift. What appears to have been a perfect storm of problems may have left the pilots with an insurmountable challenge, investigators have found.

indonesia flagThe final moments of Lion Air Flight 610 as it hurtled soon after dawn from a calm Indonesian sky into the waters of the Java Sea would have been terrifying but swift.

The single-aisle Boeing aircraft, assembled in Washington State and delivered to Lion Air less than three months ago, appears to have plummeted nose-first into the water, its advanced jet engines racing the plane toward the waves at as much as 400 m.p.h. in less than a minute.

The aircraft slammed into the sea with such force that some metal fittings aboard were reduced to powder, and the aircraft’s flight data recorder tore loose from its armored box, propelled into the muddy seabed.

Animal Rights - Gambling

ny times logoNew York Times, Thousands of Greyhounds May Need Homes as Florida Bans Racing, Audra D. S. Burch and Christina Caron, Nov. 9, 2018. Florida’s newly passed ban on greyhound racing will leave thousands of dogs homeless. Groups on both sides of the amendment will work to find homes.

Animal activists have been trying for years to put an end to greyhound racing in Florida, one of the country’s most popular spots to watch dogs chase mechanical rabbits round and round a track. In their view, the greyhounds were mistreated, subjected to harsh living conditions, then retired with broken bones.

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly backed a measure that set greyhound lovers scrambling in a new direction: finding new homes for thousands of dogs with no clear future.

Amendment 13, which proposed banning racing by the end of 2020 and hardened the battle lines between greyhound track owners and animal advocates, passed with 69 percent of the vote.

The industry has long been criticized as abusive to the dogs. Track owners and trainers pushed back, saying the dogs were well cared for and would not race if they were unhealthy or neglected.

But as Florida is home to 11 of the nation’s 17 active dog tracks, there is a concern that the networks of people who find new owners for dogs at the end of their short racing careers will be overwhelmed.

#MeToo In High-Tech

ny times logofacebook logoNew York Times, Facebook to Drop Forced Arbitration in Harassment Cases, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Nov. 9, 2018. Facebook said on Friday that it would no longer force employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration, making it the latest technology company to do away with a practice that critics say has stacked the deck against victims of harassment.

Facebook acted one day after Google announced similar plans. Last week, 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout from the company’s offices around the world to demand that it change the way it handled sexual harassment incidents. Microsoft changed its arbitration policy about a year ago, as did the ride-hailing company Uber six months ago.

Nov. 8

Election Follow-ups

washington post logoWashington Post, Questions of uncounted ballots remain in gubernatorial races in Georgia, Florida, Elise Viebeck, Nov. 8, 2018. Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, claimed victory and submitted his resignation from that office, even though his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams had not been called.

In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum appeared to back off his election-night concession to Republican Ron DeSantis, citing reports of uncounted ballots. See also, Washington Post, Senate, governor's races in Florida pull into recount range.

washington post logoWashington Post, Once in majority, House Democrats plan quick vote to protect coverage for those with preexisting conditions, Erica Werner​, Nov. 8, 2018. The vote would follow up Democrats’ successful midterms strategy of focusing on health care and attacking Republicans relentlessly over their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Whitaker Helped Promote Scam Company

washington post logoWashington Post, New acting attorney general once promoted a company accused of deceiving clients, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr.​, Nov. 8, 2018. Former customers of World Patent Marketing expressed dismay at Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department for now.

matthew whitaker screengrabWhen federal investigators were digging into an invention-promotion company accused of fraud by customers, they sought information in 2017 from a prominent member of the company’s advisory board, according to two people familiar with the probe: Matthew G. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa (shown in a screen shot).

ftc logoIt is unclear how Whitaker — who was appointed acting attorney general by President Trump on Wednesday — responded to a Federal Trade Commission subpoena to his law firm.

In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings.

In May of this year, a federal court in Florida ordered the company to pay a settlement of more than $25 million and close up shop, records show. The company did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

New Insights On Mueller Probe

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Conservative Scholars Dispute Whitaker appointment, expert guests, Nov. 8, 2018. At least two prominent conservative scholars disputed President Trump's power to promote Justice Department Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker to the post of acting attorney general without senate confirmation.

Those scholars are University of California at Berkeley Law School professor John Yoo, a high-level Justice Department appointee during the George W. Bush presidency, and Fox News commentator and former New Jersey state court judge Andrew Napolitano.

Their views were reported by several MSNBC hosts, among others, who separately quoted guest Neal Katyal as saying many individuals would have "standing" before the courts to challenge Whitaker's powers, particularly if Whitaker seeks to thwart Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of the Trump Administration.

Host Lawrence O'Donnell, formerly a longtime Democratic staffer for the U.S. Senate, also warned that Whitaker could be liable for the obstruction of justice charges that have a five-year statute of limitations that could extend into a Democratic administration.

In related news, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team told a federal appeals panel how newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is now kept informed of the special counsel's work and can affect major decisions.

Prosecutor Michael Dreeden made the comments in response to questions from a three-judge panel hearing arguments from Andrew Miller, a reluctant witness before the special counsel's grand jury probe into the activities of GOP consultant Roger Stone. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on the comments. The events were at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. The Justice Integrity Project visited the courthouse vicinity based on a tip advising of unusual activity at the courthouse.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Once Declared Courts ‘the Inferior Branch,’ Nov. 8, 2018. The newly installed head of the Justice Department, Matthew G. Whitaker, also criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts. In a Q. and A. in 2014, Mr. Whitaker espoused views that a constitutional scholar called “internally contradictory” and “ignorant.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Matthew Whitaker has experience advising con artists. Will he help more under Trump? Catherine Rampell, Nov. 8, 2018. Many assume Matthew G. Whitaker was chosen as acting attorney general because he criticized the Russia probe, said he would have indicted Hillary Clinton and otherwise looks like a die-hard Trump loyalist.

But maybe Whitaker really was picked because he has experience advising con artists.

Whitaker, after all, was involved with a Miami-based firm that federal regulators shut down last year as an alleged scam. The firm, World Patent Marketing, promised aspiring inventors that it would patent and market their brainchildren, based on what a 17-page Federal Trade Commission complaint characterized as bogus “success stories” and other false claims.

Among the many, many ways this company hoodwinked customers, according to the FTC complaint: It claimed its customers’ inventions were sold in “big box” stores such as Walmart and Target, when in fact none were; it claimed it owned a manufacturing plant in China, though no such plant existed; and it said its board of advisers (“Invention Team Advisory Board”) personally reviewed customers’ invention ideas, when the board did no such thing.

The company allegedly bilked some customers out of their life savings and threw others deeply into debt; a Miami New Times exposé found that some had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In return, the company “provided almost no service,” according to the FTC.

Just as bad, when customers complained or asked for refunds, the FTC said, the company resorted to threats and intimidation.

Sometimes this involved ominous references to World Patent Marketing’s “intimidating security team, all ex-Israeli Special Ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.”

Mostly, the message came from lawyers. Including Whitaker.

Whitaker was on the World Patent Marketing’s “Invention Team Advisory Board” — yes, that body the FTC said was falsely advertised as reviewing customers’ creations. The company touted Whitaker’s credentials as a former U.S. attorney and Republican Senate candidate. Whitaker publicly vouched for the firm in promotional materials.

Investigator's Report Announced

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: General release of Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author of 16 books, including the recent Trump's Bananas Republic, and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 8, 2018 (Most WMR columns are subscription only but this article is available to the general public.)

Since WMR began developing and maintaining the "Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map" in 2017, it has been WMR's intention to release it to the general public the moment Donald Trump made a hostile move on the Department of Justice and specifically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions — who was recused from overseeing the collusion investigation of Trump's and his family's criminal foreign entanglements — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are all being targeted by Trump and his criminal associates in an attempt to hide the Trump Organization's close connections to and involvement with major international criminal networks.

The Trump-Mafia Road Map illustrates the myriad nature of Trump's criminal enterprises. Due to its size and compression, the .PDF file [download here] must be expanded by at least 400 times, using a .PDF viewer, for proper reading and scrolling.

sam clovis fox news CustomOn November 7, Trump fired Sessions, removed Rosenstein from overseeing Mueller's investigation, and named, as acting Attorney General, the Attorney General's chief of staff Matt Whitaker, a GOP operative from Iowa and a close friend and political associate of Sam Clovis, left, a Trump campaign official and a witness called before a grand jury empanelled by Mueller.

This "Wednesday afternoon massacre" was the first step toward Trump's shutting down the important work of Mueller and his team of investigators.

There is an inter-active version of the Road Map. It contains side notes and other relevant information. It can be accessed by clicking here. If you choose this viewing method, be prepared for very long load times. This is a massive document. Your device may freeze during accessing. We are, therefore, recommending only downloading the PDF document.

djt roy cohn mob clients carmine galante john gotti tony salerno1533348924301

More On Trump Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting attorney general said to have no plans to recuse from Russia probe, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey​, Nov. 8, 2018. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people close to him who added they do not believe he would approve any subpoena of President Trump as part of that investigation.

matthew whitaker agSince stepping into his new role on Wednesday, Whitaker (left) has faced questions — principally from Democrats — about whether he should recuse from the Russia investigation, given that he has written opinion pieces in the past about the investigation, and is a friend and political ally of a witness.

On Thursday, two people close to Whitaker said he has no intention of taking himself off the Russia case.

Ethics officials at the Justice Department are likely to review his past work to see if he has any financial or personal conflicts. In many instances, that office does not require a Justice Department official to recuse, but suggests a course of action. In the past, senior Justice Department officials tend to follow such advice, but they are rarely required to do so, according to officials familiar with the process.

Reuters via New York Times, Whitaker’s Friendship With Trump Aide Reignites Recusal Debate, Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018.  President Donald Trump's pick for acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, is a close friend of Trump's 2016 election campaign co-chair, and a former government ethics chief said the friendship makes Whitaker unable to oversee impartially a politically charged investigation into the campaign.

Matthew Whitaker, named on Wednesday to replace Jeff Sessions, will directly oversee Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into possible links between Trump's campaign team and Russian officials.

Whitaker publicly criticized Mueller’s investigation before he was hired as Sessions’ chief of staff last year.

walter shaubSam Clovis, who was co-chair of Trump's 2016 campaign and has testified before the grand jury in the Mueller investigation, said he and Whitaker became good friends when they ran against each other as Republicans in a 2014 Senate primary campaign in Iowa. Whitaker also later served as the chairman of a Clovis campaign for state treasurer.

Walter Shaub, right, who was director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for four years before resigning in July 2017, said the friendship between Whitaker and Clovis should disqualify Whitaker from supervising the Mueller investigation.

Palmer Report, Analysis, Buzz says Donald Trump Jr is on the verge of arrest, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2018. Yesterday, Donald Trump made the too little, too late move of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Special Counsel Robert Mueller had by all accounts already reached the finish line of his investigation. The question was why the usually-tepid Trump pulled the trigger at all. Now there’s suddenly buzz everywhere that Donald Trump Jr is on the verge of arrest. This is bolstered by the fact that one of the people making this assertion is Junior himself.

Donald Trump Jr has been running around telling people that he thinks he’s going to get indicted soon, according to New York Magazine and Politico. But this report is just the start of it. Now the Democratic Coalition has just announced that according to its sources, Junior’s arrest is “imminent.” Other usually-reliable pundits are floating the same thing. But really, this comes back to Junior’s own claim that he’s about to get popped – and yes, there are ways he could know it’s about to happen.

For instance, Robert Mueller’s people told Paul Manafort in advance that he was about to be indicted and arrested, in the hope of convincing him to cut a plea deal. It’s not quite as clear why Mueller would give Donald Trump Jr an advance heads-up, as he’s not going to flip on his father, at least not right away. That said, if Mueller has hauled Junior’s associates before a grand jury, they could have tipped him off about how far Mueller has progressed.

There are a couple key things to keep in mind here. We don’t know if Robert Mueller is planning to nail Donald Trump Jr for Trump-Russia collusion right out of the gate, or if he might initially have someone like SDNY nail Junior on more-easily-proven financial crimes instead. If Mueller hands it off, that would help circumvent any potential complications raised by Jeff Sessions’ recent firing. Also, if Junior is about to be arrested, it would mean he’s already been indicted, and it’s under seal. Stay tuned.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: This is what the firing of Mr. Sessions could mean for the Russia investigation, Charlie Savage, Nov. 8, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appoint Mr. Sessions’s former chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting head of the Justice Department immediately raised questions about what the move means for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation.

What does this mean for the Mueller investigation?

The shake-up means that Mr. Whitaker assumes oversight of the inquiry from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

jeff sessions ag oMr. Sessions, left, recused himself from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, citing his role as an active Trump supporter, so Mr. Rosenstein has been serving as acting attorney general for the investigation into whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference and whether Mr. Trump obstructed the inquiry itself. He appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel.

But because Mr. Whitaker is not recused from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, as Mr. Sessions was, he takes over the case. Mr. Rosenstein goes back to his day job overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Justice Department.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker Once Criticized Supreme Court’s Power, Charlie Savage, Nov. 8, 2018. The acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, once espoused the view that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional, the lifeblood of its existence as a coequal branch of government.

In a Q. and A. when he sought the Republican nomination for senator in Iowa in 2014, Mr. Whitaker indicated that he shared the belief among some conservatives that the federal judiciary has too much power over public policy. He criticized many of the Supreme Court’s rulings, beginning with a foundational one: Marbury v. Madison, which established its power of judicial review in 1803.

“There are so many” bad rulings, Mr. Whitaker said. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues.”

The interview was among evidence that shed new light on Mr. Whitaker’s views, including disparagement of the Russia investigation, which he now oversees, and an expansive view of presidential power. Congressional aides, journalists and other observers scoured his record after Mr. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him with Mr. Whitaker, instantly raising questions about whether the president wanted a loyalist in charge at the Justice Department with the power to end the Russia investigation.

Groups throughout the nation marched on Thursday to support the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and to protest Mr. Whitaker’s appointment. Thousands demonstrated in dozens of cities, including in Washington, Philadelphia, Omaha and Salt Lake City.

In New York, about 4,000 people marched from Times Square to Union Square, the police said. Protesters held signs and chanted “Trump is not above the law.” On Twitter, #ProtectMueller was trending.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump’s new Acting Attorney General stooge Matthew Whitaker is already crashing and burning, Bill Palmer, Nov. 8, 2018. After he fired Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump could have picked just about anyone to be his new Acting Attorney General. Trump has any number of loyal stooges who would be willing to do his corrupt bidding in this role. But as it turns out, Trump – true to form – picked the one guy who is already crashing and burning in real time.

matthew whitakerThe key to secretly putting your own corrupt stooge in power is to make sure it’s actually a secret. Donald Trump, who becomes more divorced from reality by the hour, doesn’t appear to understand that concept. Of all the stooges available, Trump chose Matthew Whitaker, right, – a guy who has spent the past several months flat out admitting on television and in writing that he thinks Trump should be shielded from any attempt at investigation.

If Trump had picked anyone else as Acting Attorney General, House Democrats would have had to wait for that person to actually commit obstruction of justice, and get caught doing it, before they’d be able to make any headway in forcing that person out. But because Matthew Whitaker has already publicly and repeatedly pre-confessed his intent to commit obstruction on Trump’s behalf, the Democrats can immediately make headway in taking this guy down.

In fact Nancy Pelosi is already calling for Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself. Will it happen? We’ll see. Keep in mind that Donald Trump installed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General specifically to protect himself in the Trump-Russia investigation, yet as soon as Sessions found himself facing potential criminal culpability of his own, he quickly recused himself. Whitaker is already crashing and burning; we’ll see how bad it gets for him.

ny times logoRobert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)New York Times, Opinion: Mueller Was Running on Borrowed Time. Has It Run Out? Editorial Board, Nov. 8, 2018. The president seems to want a lawman he can control. Robert Mueller (shown in a file photo), the special counsel, always knew he was running the Russia investigation on borrowed time. That time may have just run out on Wednesday afternoon, when President Trump ousted his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, less than 24 hours after Republicans lost their eight-year lock on the House of Representatives.

So who’s going to protect Mr. Mueller now?

rod rosenstein indict russians 7 13 2018 screeengrabUntil Wednesday, the job was being performed ably by Rod Rosenstein (shown in a screengrab), the deputy attorney general who assumed oversight of the Russia investigation when Mr. Sessions recused himself in March 2017.

Under Mr. Rosenstein’s leadership, the investigation Mr. Mueller took over has resulted in the felony conviction of the president’s former campaign chairman, guilty pleas from multiple other top Trump aides and associates and the indictments of dozens of Russian government operatives for interfering in the 2016 election. For more than a year, Mr. Rosenstein walked a political tightrope, guarding Mr. Mueller’s independence on the one hand while trying to appease Mr. Trump’s increasingly meddlesome demands on the other.

The good news is that no one, including Mr. Whitaker, can stop the multiple prosecutions or litigation already in progress — including the cooperation of Paul Manafort; the sentencing of Michael Flynn; or the continuing investigation of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump's former lawyer, and the Trump Organization by federal prosecutors in New York. The courts will have the final say on what happens in each of those cases.

Mass Shooting Near L.A.

ny times logoNew York Times, Many Who Fled California Attack Were Survivors of Las Vegas Massacre, Jose A. Del Real, Jennifer Medina and Tim Arango, Nov. 8, 2018. Country music was blaring and beer was flowing. The Lakers game was on the television, and if revelers weren’t line dancing they were playing pool. Then all of a sudden, into “College Country Night!” at the Borderline Bar & Grill stepped a man with a gun.

Wearing dark clothing and a dark baseball cap, he set off smoke bombs to create confusion. He shot a security guard at the entrance and then opened fire into the crowd. Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

And as they raced for safety, many of them thought, Not again.

Just last year, they had fled the same chaos — gunshots, bodies falling — in Las Vegas, at a country music festival where 58 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The Borderline, a popular hangout for country music fans, had become a place of solace for dozens of survivors of the Vegas massacre to come together for music, for healing and for remembering — “to celebrate life,” in the words of one.

And now, at least some of them belong to a group that seems uniquely American: survivors of two mass shootings.

“This is the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” Nicholas Champion, a fitness trainer from Southern California who posted a group photo on Facebook of Vegas survivors gathering at the Borderline in April, said in a television interview. “I was at the Las Vegas Route 91 mass shooting as well as probably 50 or 60 others who were in the building at the same time as me tonight.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Gunman Kills at Least 12 at California Bar, Jose A. Del Real, Gerry Mullany and Russell Goldman, Nov. 8, 2018. At least 11 bar patrons and a sheriff’s deputy, Ron Helus, shown at right, died late Wednesday in a shooting at a country and western dance hall in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The gunman is dead, officials said early Thursday. The bar had been holding an event for college students.

ron helus croppedThe shooting came just over a year after 58 people were killed at a country music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire from a high-rise hotel room. There was an eerie parallel between the two shootings as some of the same people who emerged from the bar, the Borderline Bar & Grill, described having survived the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.

Witnesses recalled a chaotic scene at the bar, which was filled with hundreds of people, many of them college students: A gunman opening fire, first at a security guard, as patrons dropped to the dance floor, hid under tables and broke windows to escape. When other law enforcement officers arrived the gunman was already dead.

Helus, was described as a hero who was approaching retirement after a long career but who stepped forward in the crisis and saved many lives.

Experts said it was No. 307 in a count of "mass shootings" so far this year, as calculated by events where four or more persons were shot, with a total of 328 deaths..

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: How the N.R.A. Builds Loyalty and Fanaticism, Nicholas Kristof, Sahil Chinoy and Jessia Ma, Nov. 8, 2018. The evolution of the N.R.A.’s magazine shows that a group once about hunting and sports has transformed itself into a far-right political organization.

nra logo CustomAnother needless tragedy in America: This time a gunman opened fire in a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing at least 12 people and injuring many more.

These horrors happen far more often in America than in other advanced countries partly because of the outsize political influence of the National Rifle Association. N.R.A. candidates suffered some important defeats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but in a broad swath of red state America it remains potent, controlling politicians who know that an N.R.A. endorsement can make or break an election.

It is not the richest interest group. The National Association of Realtors has spent twice as much in the 2018 federal election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It is not the largest interest group. It claims about six million members (probably an exaggeration); AARP has more than six times that number.

But the N.R.A. attracts incredible loyalty from its members. “That’s the critical thing people miss,” said Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and the author of five books on gun policy. He said that the group combines a shared pastime with “ideological fervor.”

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Bars Immigrants Who Cross Border Illegally From Seeking Asylum, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 8, 2018. The Trump administration announced new immigration rules on Thursday that give President Trump vast new authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses the border illegally, invoking national security powers meant to protect the United States against threats from abroad.

djt gage skidmore2 cpacOfficials declined to say who will be affected, but they indicated that the president will issue a proclamation on Friday. It is widely expected inside the government and by migrant advocates that Mr. Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore portrait) intends to deny asylum to members of Central American nations, some of whom are marching toward the United States in a caravan.

Administration officials said the new regulations — which draw upon the same authority that Mr. Trump used to ban travel from predominantly Muslim countries only days after his inauguration — give the president, and his successors, new power to deny asylum to any group of immigrants who cross the border illegally.

That assertion is certain to be challenged in court. Immigration advocates said it violates longstanding federal asylum law that is meant to judge each person’s asylum claim on its own merits. And they said the new rules conflict with treaties in which the United States pledged to accept asylum claims from migrants.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta, Drew Harwell​, Nov. 8, 2018. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday night shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.

jim acosta gage skidmore croppedThe edited video looks authentic: Acosta (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) appeared to swiftly chop down on the arm of an aide as he held onto a microphone while questioning President Trump. But in the original video, Acosta’s arm appears to move only as a response to a tussle for the microphone. His statement, “Pardon me, ma’am,” is not included in the video Sanders shared.

Critics said that video — which sped up the movement of Acosta’s arms in a way that dramatically changed the journalist’s response — was deceptively edited to score political points. That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, known for his conspiracy-theory videos on the far-right website Infowars.

Watson said he did not change the speed of the video and that claims he had altered it were a “brazen lie.” Watson, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, told BuzzFeed he created the video by downloading an animated image from conservative news site Daily Wire, zooming in and saving it as a video — a conversion he says could have made it “look a tiny bit different.”

A frame-by-frame breakdown by Storyful, a social-media intelligence firm that verifies media content, found that the edited video included repeated frames that did not appear in the original footage. The repeated frames were shown only at the moment of contact and made Acosta’s arm movement look more exaggerated, said Shane Raymond, a journalist at Storyful.

Sanders’s tweet of the edited video, in which she said the White House would “not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video,” has at least 20,000 retweets and more than 2 million views. Watson’s video, posted two hours before, has been seen at least 740,000 times.

Watson wrote on Infowars that Acosta “clearly uses his left arm to physically resist/restrain the woman," and that he “overpowered her.” Infowars, whose conspiracy theories include the baseless claim that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, was banned this year by Facebook, Google and Twitter for sharing offensive or threatening content.

Congress, Crime, Courts

linda sánchez oRoll Call, Rep. Linda Sánchez’s Husband Indicted for Theft of Federal Funds, Lindsey McPherson, Nov. 8, 2018. California Democrat dropped leadership bid citing “unexpected family matter.” Linda Sánchez, right, Withdraws From Democratic Caucus Chair Race. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Not Running for Leadership Hakeem Jeffries Enters Democratic Caucus Chair Race.

The “unexpected family matter” cited by California Rep. Linda T. Sánchez in withdrawing from the race for House Democratic Caucus chair relates to her husband, who was indicated on theft and conspiracy charges related to spending corporate money on personal trips, including some allegedly spent on Sánchez.

democratic donkey logo“Earlier today I learned that my husband is facing charges in Connecticut,” Sánchez said in a statement Thursday. “After careful consideration of the time and energy being in leadership demands, I have decided that my focus now needs to be on my son, my family, and my constituents in California.”

Sánchez, the current vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus, was expected to face fellow California Rep. Barbara Lee for the caucus chair position. New York Rep. Hakeem T. Jeffries joined the race earlier Thursday.

Sánchez’s husband, James Sullivan, was one of five individuals associated with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corporation indicted by a federal grand jury for spending more than $800,000 of the corporation’s money on personal trips.

The CMEEC is a cooperative public corporation that has membership agreements with Connecticut municipalities that allows the towns’ electric utilities to work together to furnish power to the combined areas. The CMEEC membership agreement requires excess revenues to be returned to the member towns to help keep electricity costs stable.

The indictment against Sullivan and his CMEEC colleagues, all of whom hold or have held board or executive positions, spent corporate money on trips to the Kentucky Derby in 2015 and 2016 and to a luxury golf resort in West Virginia in 2015.

They directed the funds used to pay for the trips from the CMEEC Margin account, without a vote of the board and written consent of the member towns as required by the membership agreement.

Justice Hurt In Fall

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized With 3 Broken Ribs, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Liptak, Nov. 8, 2018. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court, shown in a file photo, was hospitalized on Thursday morning, with three broken ribs after falling in her office Wednesday evening, a spokeswoman said.

ruth bader ginsburg scotusJustice Ginsburg, 85, went home after her fall, but experienced discomfort over the night. She was admitted to George Washington University Hospital, where doctors found three broken ribs on her left side, Kathy Arberg, a Supreme Court spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The next sitting of the Supreme Court begins on Nov. 26, and Justice Ginsburg’s history suggests the injuries are not likely to keep her away. She broke two ribs in 2012, without missing work. And she returned to work quickly after undergoing a heart procedure in 2012. She is also a cancer survivor and returned to work less supreme court graphicthan three weeks after having surgery.

Even as Justice Ginsburg has shown she bounces back quickly from health setbacks, liberals have become jittery about how much more time she will be able to serve, particularly with the balance of the Supreme Court shifting to the right because of President Trump’s appointment of two conservative justices.

Update: She was reported released from the hospital on Nov. 9 and working from home.

More On U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, A Trump-Fueled ‘Wipeout’ for House Republicans in the Northeast, Shane Goldmacher and Nick Corasaniti, Nov. 8, 2018 (print edition).  Of the 60 congressional races on Tuesday in eight Northeastern states, including New York and New Jersey, not a single Republican is on pace to top 57 percent of the vote ballot. The party was poised to cede six seats — more than one-third of their overall total — and of the nine remaining Republican-held seats, two incumbents were leading with less than 50 percent of the vote.

republican elephant logoIn New Jersey, voters slashed the number of Republicans in Congress from five down to two, and possibly only one.

In New York, Democrats declared victory in three congressional races in President Trump’s home state, ejecting the last remaining Republican from New York City.

And in the six other states in the Northeast, the lone remaining Republican congressman, Representative Bruce Poliquin of Maine, was clinging to his seat on Wednesday, his fate to be decided by the second choices of third-party voters through ranked-choice voting.

“This was a wipeout for Republicans in the Northeast,” declared Christopher H. Shays, a former moderate Republican congressman from Connecticut who lost his own re-election a decade ago.

Associated Press via NBC News, Arizona GOP sues to limit mail-in ballots in Senate race, Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018. Republicans filed a lawsuit Wednesday night to challenge the way some Arizona counties count mail-in ballots as election officials began to slowly tally more than 600,000 outstanding votes in the narrow U.S. Senate race — a task that could take days.

kyrsten sinema oRepublican Rep. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Kyrstin Sinema (shown at right) were separated by a small fraction of the 1.7 million tabulated votes.

Breaking: NBC News reported the evening of Nov. 8 that new votes have put the Democratic candidate in the lead by nearly 10,000 votes, flipping a previously announced win by the Republican at at least temporarily, with hundreds of thousands of votes remaining to be counted.

About 75 percent of Arizona voters cast ballots by mail, but those ballots have to go through the laborious signature confirmation process, and only then can be opened and tabulated. If county recorders have issues verifying signatures they are allowed to ask voters to verify their identity.

The suit filed Wednesday by four county Republican parties alleges that the state's 15 county recorders don't follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to adjust problems with their mail-in ballots, and that two counties improperly allow those fixes after Election Day.

Democrats believe the uncounted urban ballots dropped off shortly before Election Day favors Sinema. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard Friday, after the next release late Thursday of tallied ballots.

It's one window into the complexities of mail ballots and the so-called "late earlies" that arrive just before Election Day and regularly gum up the state's vote counting system. This election featured heavy statewide turnout of about 60 percent, more in line with a presidential election than a midterm — part of the reason county registrars were overloaded with uncounted ballots.

One candidate familiar with the long wait is McSally. It took The Associated Press 12 days to name her as the loser of her first congressional race in 2012 because the margin was so narrow and vote counting was slow. McSally's second and successful bid for the seat ended with a recount in December of 2014, more than one month after the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP’s Kemp claims victory in Georgia governor’s race as Abrams declines to concede, Elise Viebeck​,​ Nov. 8, 2018. Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, submitted his resignation from that office, though his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams has not been called. Voting rights advocates have accused Kemp of disenfranchising voters.Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp declared victory and resigned his state position on Thursday, though his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams remains unresolved.

brian kempAs Democrats accused Kemp (shown at right) of disenfranchising thousands of voters, Kemp convened a news conference where he said he had submitted his resignation as Georgia secretary of state, effective Thursday.

“We’re in court this morning still dealing with a lot of these quite honestly ridiculous lawsuits,” Kemp said. “We’re going to continue to fight that. The votes are not there for her.”

Abrams vowed to press on as election officials counted thousands of absentee and provisional ballots.

Kemp had 50.3 percent of the vote to Abrams’s 48.7 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting as of Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, Democrats triumphed in one of Georgia’s tightest congressional races on Thursday after Republican Rep. Karen Handel conceded to anti-gun violence advocate Lucy McBath.

McBath will come to Congress as part of the House’s new Democratic majority. Her victory marked the party’s 29th pickup in the lower chamber, with several races still undecided, according to a tally by The Washington Post.

McBath was a first-time congressional candidate who jumped into the race at the last minute, citing February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. She became an activist after her 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 by a man who had argued with the teen and his friends about loud music coming from their car.

White House Press Dispute

The Hill, Reporters accuse Sarah Sanders of sharing edited video of The Hill, Avery Anapol, Nov. 8, 2018. Trump to Acosta: CNN should be 'ashamed' of employing you. White House sarah huckabee sanderspress secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (shown in a file photo) is facing accusations that she shared an edited video of the exchange between CNN correspondent Jim Acosta and an administration aide at President Trump's post-midterm news conference on Wednesday.

Sanders shared the video on her official Twitter account to justify the White House's decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials after his tense exchange with Trump:

We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) 10:33 PM - Nov 7, 2018

Sanders cited Acosta’s interaction with the press aide as reason for suspending his “hard pass.”

During the press conference, the aide attempted to take a microphone away from Acosta as he questioned Trump, but he refused to let go. Video shows his arm brushing hers in the process.

But dozens of social media users, including several reporters and political analysts, said that the video Sanders shared zooms in on the moment of contact, and appears to have been sped up to make the moment appear more aggressive.

cnn logoMatt Dornic, CNN’s vice president of communications and digital partnerships, said it was “absolutely shameful” for Sanders to share the video. “History will not be kind to you,” Dornic tweeted. "Absolutely shameful, @PressSec. You released a doctored video - actual fake news. History will not be kind to you."

Sample comments:

  • This is a video that Infowars made. They sped it up so that it seems more violent than it is.— Nicole Goodkind (@NicoleGoodkind) 11:42 PM - Nov 7, 2018
  • 1) Took @PressSec Sarah Sanders' video of briefing 2) Tinted red and made transparent over CSPAN video 3) Red motion is when they doctored video speed 4) Sped up to make Jim Acosta's motion look like a chop 5) I've edited video for 15+ years 6) The White House doctored it— Rafael Shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) 3:34 AM - Nov 8, 2018.

Terror Threat Against CNN

benjamin craig matthews baxter countyArkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansan charged in threats to CNN, Baxter County man accused of 40 calls, Bill Bowden, Nov. 8, 2018. A Mountain Home man was arrested Tuesday, accused of making threatening telephone calls to CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Benjamin Craig Matthews, 39, made more than 40 threatening calls to CNN from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in Baxter County Circuit Court.

cnn logoIn several calls, Matthews threatened a CNN journalist described in court documents as DL. In one call, according to the affidavit, Matthews asked the CNN switchboard operator, "Could I be directed to DL's dead body hanging from a tree?" In another call, Matthews spoke of "bloody pictures of DL cut up in small pieces, like the movie Saw," according to the affidavit from Sgt. Brad Hurst with the Baxter County sheriff's office.

CNN has been a consistent target of President Donald Trump.

Matthews' telephone records indicate that he had also made calls to MSNBC; U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; attorney Michael Avenatti; Washington Speakers Bureau; and Planned Parenthood, "suggesting a pattern of harassment towards certain political affiliations," according to the affidavit.

Matthews has been charged with five counts of felony terroristic threatening, four counts of misdemeanor terroristic threatening and nine counts of harassing communications, which is a misdemeanor.

#MeToo Ruling On NY AG

ny times logoNew York Times, Schneiderman Will Not Face Criminal Charges in Abuse Complaints, Alan Feuer, Nov. 8, 2018. After a six-month investigation, prosecutors said Thursday that they would not pursue criminal charges against Eric T. Schneiderman, right, the former New York State attorney general who resigned in May after four women accused him of assaulting them.

eric schneiderman oThe decision not to file charges was announced in a statement issued by Madeline Singas, the Nassau County district attorney, who was asked by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to investigate the case shortly after Mr. Schneiderman left his post.

Ms. Singas said the women who accused Mr. Schneiderman of abuse were credible, but there were legal hurdles to bringing charges. She did not elaborate on those obstacles, except to say that some of the accusations were too old to pursue under state law.

Trump World

New York Observer, Rudy Giuliani Has Spent $286,000 on His Mistress in Six Months, According to his Wife, Davis Richardson, Nov. 8, 2018. According to his third wife, Judith Nathan, Rudy Giuliani, right, has two very expensive habits: Cigars and mistresses.

rudy giuliani recentCourt filings from the pair’s divorce proceedings in Manhattan claim Giuliani dolled out $286,536 to his mistress, Maria Rosa Ryan, over the last six months. The two began an affair earlier this year, prompting Nathan to file for divorce. Like Giuliani, Ryan is also married.

When President Trump’s attorney wasn’t bankrolling his affair, he was reportedly spending $447,938 on activities “for his own enjoyment” and $165,165 on travel, per NBC. Nathan also alleges Giuliani spent $12,012 on cigars and $7,131 on pens. All expenses are said to have occurred since April.

Yemen: Major Houthi Victory?

Al-Masdar News (AMS), Houthis cuts all supply lines to Saudi Coalition troops in Hodeidah, Leith Aboufadel, Nov. 8, 2018. The Houthis Movement scored an important advance on Thursday that resulted in the complete encirclement of the Saudi Coalition troops inside Hodeidah.

The Houthis released a statement this evening that said all Saudi Coalition troops inside of Hodeidah are now trapped after they cut all the supply lines to these fighters in the provincial capital. the Houthis said that at least 150 members of the pro-government forces had been killed over the last few days.

Furthermore, the Houthis managed to destroy another 17 military and technical vehicles that belonged to the Saudi Coalition forces in western Yemen. This latest news from Hodeidah comes just 48 hours after the Saudi Coalition forces broke through the frontline defenses of the Houthis at the provinc

Syrian War

SouthFront, In Special Operation: Syrian Army Frees Remaining Al-Suwayda Hostages From ISIS (Video), Staff report, Nov. 8, 2018. The Syrian Special Forces freed all the remaining al-Suwayda hostages from the ISIS hands during a special security operation in the eastern Homs countryside, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), which said:

syrian flag waving“In a heroic and precise operation, a group of heroes of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) clashed, in the area of Hamimah east of Palmyra, with a group of ISIS terrorists, who had abducted women and children from the governorate of al-Suwayda weeks ago … after fierce battle our heroes managed to free all the hostages and killed all the terrorists,”the SANA said in a short press release.

The state-run news agency didn’t provide further information about the special operation. However, Syrian pro-government activists believe that Russia Special Forces may have played a role in the supposed operation, especially that they were deployed in al-Suwayda earlier.

The hostages were abducted on July 25 during a brutal attack by ISIS terrorists on several villages in the eastern al-Suwayda countryside. Back then, more than 250 civilians and local fighters were killed.

Now when the hostages are freed, the SAA and its allies will be able to use all their fire power against the remaining terrorists in al-Safa.

Nov. 7

Sessions Resigns: Threat To Mueller?

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump’s request, Devlin Barrett, Nov. 7, 2018. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department on Oct. 26.

jeff sessions ag oAttorney General Jeff Sessions resigned on Wednesday at President Trump’s request, ending the tenure of a loyalist he soured on shortly after Sessions took office in 2017 because the former senator from Alabama had recused himself from oversight of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite the tension with the White House, Sessions had described the position of top law enforcement officer as his dream job and he pursued his conservative agenda with gusto. But he also had to live with sometimes humiliating attacks from a president he couldn’t seem to please and the suspicions of career staff jeff sessions djt new york post front cover nov 7 2018 Smallmembers who feared the politicization of a Justice Department that prides itself on its independence.

Department veterans have expressed concerns that Trump’s repeated public attacks on Sessions, the Justice Department and the FBI could cause lasting damage to federal law enforcement.

Sessions, 71, was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump, and in many ways he had been the biggest supporter of the president’s policies on immigration, crime and law enforcement.

But all of those areas of agreement were overshadowed by the Russia investigation — specifically, Sessions’s recusal from the inquiry after it was revealed that he had met more than once with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 campaign even though he had said during his confirmation hearing that he had not met with any Russians.

Trump has never forgiven Sessions for that decision, which he regarded as an act of disloyalty that denied him the protection he thought he deserved from his attorney general. “I don’t have an attorney general,” he said in September.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sessions’s ouster throws future of special counsel probe into question, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2018. The new acting attorney general could sharply curtail Robert S. Mueller III’s authority or budget.

matthew whitakerTrump named as acting attorney general Matthew F. Whitaker, right, Session’s chief of staff, who as a legal commentator last year wrote that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appeared to be taking his investigation too far.

A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Whitaker would assume final decision-making authority over the special counsel probe instead of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Since last year, Rosenstein has overseen the investigation because Sessions, a key Trump surrogate in 2016, recused himself from dealing with matters involving the campaign. It wasn’t immediately clear what role, if any, Rosenstein may play in the probe going forward.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Analyst: Sessions Replacement 'Worst Possible,' Katie Tur interview of Matthew Miller, Nov. 7, 2018. Former Obama Administration Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that President Trump's replacement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions with his replacement, Chief of Staff Matthew G. Whitaker is the "worst possible" choice

That's because, in Miller's view, a 2017 Whitaker opinion column for CNN described as improper any attempt by the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III to probe Trump's finances or the behavior of his family. Whitaker wrote that it would be a "red line" if Mueller extends the probe into matters not covered by the "four corners" of his initial appointment.

matthew whitaker cnn july 26 2017 don lemon SmallThat would presumably exclude Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 campaign meeting at Trump Tower with Russian operatives to obtain dirt on rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "I doubt if you could find any other person at the Justice Department" who has taken that position, Miller said. Whitaker is shown second from the left in a screenshot from a CNN interview on the topic by host Don Lemon, at far left, on July 26, 2017.

Miller said that the appointment poses a "red alert" to the continued viability of the Mueller investigation but would probably not result in Mueller's firing. Instead, Miller said, the Justice Department is likely to simply sit on any new Mueller findings and never approve major new indictments or forward any report to congressional authorities. Miller said it is a time for the public to think of taking to the streets in protest of new developments.

Sessions had been recused from supervision of the Mueller probe because of a Sessions conflict whereby some of his own activities. Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein had been supervising Mueller but that authority is now likely to transfer to Whitaker, who had been a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Iowa from 2004 to 2009.

Justice Department log circularTrump is now under investigation for, among other possible crimes, obstruction of justice for his firing of FBI director James Comey who was investigation allegations of election rigging in 2016 with Russian influence.

MSNBC analyst Robert Costa, a Washington Post reporter, said that Whitaker is a "hard-right" Republican partisan Costa observed years ago in Whitaker's unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa.

Another MSNBC analyst, former Justice Department executive Chuck Rosenberg, told host Nicole Wallace that the circumstances of Whitaker's appointment might be highly relevant to a Mueller obstruction of justice probe.

NBC analyst and author John Heilmann said that Trump has installed a "lackey" in Whitaker instead of the normal transition figure, Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, and is rather clearly moving towards thwarting the Mueller probe, thereby prompting a possible constitutional crisis.

The potential crime at issue in the Mueller probe is "ten times worse" than President Richard Nixon's Watergate cover up, according to historian Michael Bechloss, who said that Nixon was covering up a burglary, whereas Mueller's core probe is about alleged interference by Russia into the 2016 presidential election of Trump. 

matthew whitaker 2012 campaign statement cspanDeSmog, Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years, Sharon Kelly, Nov. 7, 2018.Today, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew G. Whitaker, who served as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would replace his boss. Sessions was forced from office a day after the midterm elections, which were rough for climate and anti-fracking measures around the country.

Whitaker (shown in a C-SPAN screenshot as a Republican surrogate during the 2012 presidential campaign) was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

“In other words, an organization ‘dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency’ gets 100 percent of its funds from a group that exists mainly as a vehicle for donors to elude transparency,” the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in 2016.

In 2014, FACT received $600,000 from DonorsTrust — the only donation it reported that year, according to An additional $500,000 flowed from DonorsTrust to FACT in 2015. And in 2016, DonorsTrust gave $800,000 to FACT, tax records show, as well as two additional donations, one for $100,000 and another for $450,000. That $2.45 million represents virtually all of FACT's entire reported receipts for those years (except for a total of $456 from 2015 to 2016).

In 2016, Whitaker earned $402,000 as FACT’s director and president, according to the organization’s tax filings. That followed reported compensation from FACT for Whitaker of $63,000 in 2014, and $252,000 in 2015.

His work included advocacy for causes backed by the fossil fuel industry.

As FACT’s executive director, Whitaker sought documents from the Attorneys General United for Clean Power Coalition, alleging in a 2016 op-ed that the Coalition “launched a campaign to silence many public policy organizations and even individuals for their work challenging liberal views on climate change, as well as private companies like ExxonMobil.”

That coalition, representing attorneys general from 17 states, included Eric Schneiderman, then attorney general for New York state, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, and Claude Walker of the Virgin Islands, who were all reportedly investigating ExxonMobil for failing to disclose what it knew about climate change to its investors for decades.

Whitaker labeled the probe of ExxonMobil, which has funded climate denial efforts to the tune of at least $33 million, “both unconstitutional and unethical” — but it recently led to charges against the company.

barbara underwoodLast month, following three years of investigation, Schneiderman’s successor Barbara Underwood, left, filed a 91-page lawsuit alleging that ExxonMobil had engaged in four counts of fraud.

“Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon — which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions,” Underwood said in a statement, according to Courthouse News. “Instead, Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations.”

FACT has also come under fire for its right-wing partisan bent.

“It’s perhaps worth noting that although FACT describes itself as a ‘non-partisan ethics watchdog,’ its ethics complaints are targeted overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) at Democrats, and it is funded entirely by an anonymous trust fund (a so-called ‘pass-through) favored by ultra-wealthy conservative donors, including Charles Koch,” the Global Anti-Corruption Blog wrote in September of this year.

As Acting Attorney General, Whitaker will replace Jeff Sessions, described as a “climate change skeptic” by the Washington Post for saying on the floor of Congress in 2015 that “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases.”

The Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs has not yet responded to questions about Whitaker and FACT sent by DeSmog.

U.S. Midterm Elections

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats seize House as GOP expands Senate majority, Philip Rucker, Matt Viser, Elise Viebeck and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats leveraged fury with President Trump to capture the House on Tuesday after a hard-fought election that saw Republicans expand their majority in the Senate, a split verdict that set the stage for divided government and partisan conflict that will shape the rest of Trump’s first term.

The dramatic conclusion of the most expensive and consequential midterm in modern times fell short of delivering the sweeping repudiation of Trump wished for by Democrats and the “resistance” movement. But Democrats’ takeover in the House still portended serious changes in Washington, as the party prepared to block Trump’s agenda and investigate nancy pelosihis personal finances and potential ties to Russia.

“Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), right, who is poised to reclaim the speaker’s gavel she lost eight years ago. The Democratic victory, she said, “is about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” as well as a check on Senate Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Which House seats flipped, Staff report, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats needed a net gain of 23 seats to win control of the House. Here's the result for each seat and how likely it was to flip, based on pre-race ratings from Cook Political Report.

washington post logoWashington Post, How to explain to someone living abroad that Democrats can have over 10 million more Senate votes and still lose, Rick Noack, Nov. 7, 2018. As Europeans woke up to the results of the 2018 midterm elections on Wednesday, their primary question — what next for a president who is so deeply unpopular here? — remained largely unanswered.

And while viewers here tried to make sense of the results, they repeatedly stumbled over two numbers: the total votes for Democratic and Republican Senate candidates. More than 45 million Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates vs. about 33 million for Republican contenders, according to figures updated around 11 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday.

As the animated TV graphics clearly showed, though, it was Republicans who ended the night in control of the Senate — not the Democrats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Winners and losers from election night 2018, Aaron Blake, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats leveraged fury with President Trump to capture the House on Tuesday after a hard-fought election that saw Republicans expand their majority in the Senate, a split verdict that set the stage for divided government and partisan conflict that U.S. House logowill shape the rest of Trump’s first term.

The dramatic conclusion of the most expensive and consequential midterm in modern times fell short of delivering the sweeping repudiation of Trump wished for by Democrats and the “resistance” movement. But Democrats’ takeover in the House still portended serious changes in Washington, as the party prepared to block Trump’s agenda and investigate his personal finances and potential ties to Russia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he would take a ‘warlike posture’ if House Democrats investigate him, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 7, 2018. While President Trump vowed to work with the Democratic House majority on issues, he warned those efforts could stall if the party uses its subpoena power to investigate him or his administration.

President Trump threatened Wednesday to retaliate with a “warlike posture” should the new Democratic House majority use its subpoena power to launch investigations into his administration, warning that any probes would jeopardize prospects for bipartisan deals.

During a lengthy and at times combative White House news conference, Trump repeatedly praised Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who could reclaim the speaker’s gavel she lost eight years ago, and said his chances of striking agreements on legislation were greater with a divided government.

“The election’s over,” Trump said. “Now everybody is in love.”

The president, who had demonized Democrats in apocalyptic terms and attacked Pelosi on the campaign trail, said he looked forward to working with her on “a beautiful bipartisan-type situation.” He said they could find common ground on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and refashioning trade policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans retain control of Senate with candidates who embraced Trump, Sean Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2018. Republicans lost their most vulnerable Senate seat, in Nevada, but retained control of the chamber after victories by candidates who aligned closely with President Trump.

Republicans cemented control of the Senate for two more years Tuesday and positioned themselves for a more conservative majority, with victories by candidates who aligned closely with President Trump.

josh hawley missouriNorth Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Indiana businessman Mike Braun, and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, left, all staunch Trump allies, won seats held by Democrats. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), another Trump loyalist, defeated a popular former governor in Tennessee.

The results held implications for coming battles over the federal judiciary, trade, health care, government spending and immigration. Trump’s worldview is expected to be reflected strongly in those debates in the wake of Tuesday’s elections.

The outcomes also held significance for Trump himself. His administration could face an onslaught of investigations beginning next year. Democrats took over in the House. Some Democrats have even raised the possibility of impeachment. Senate Republicans could be Trump’s bulwark on Capitol Hill.

“I see two things,” said Jim Manley, a former top Democratic Senate aide, looking ahead. “A president unwilling to tone down his rhetoric, along with the Senate Republicans unwilling to break with him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats flip at least 7 governorships, Tim Craig, Nov. 7, 2018. The party won contests in Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada and New Mexico. But the race was too close to call in Georgia.

andrew gillum oDemocrat Andrew Gillum, right, was defeated in his bid to become Florida’s first black governor Tuesday, but the party flipped at least seven governorships after voters rejected some Republican candidates in the Midwest and the Sun Belt, including in Wisconsin, Kansas and New Mexico.

At times choking up during a speech at Florida A&M University, Gillum conceded his race to Republican Ron DeSantis, who is closely associated with President Trump.

“I sincerely regret that I couldn’t bring it home for you,” he told his supporters.

Gillum performed relatively well in Florida’s cities and suburbs. But DeSantis won massive margins from Florida’s rural counties, underscoring the advantage Republicans continue to hold in statewide elections there.

“Throughout the campaign, I knew the only thing I could control was how hard I worked,” DeSantis said in his victory speech. “And although I was confident in achieving a victory, I was at peace knowing I worked as hard as I possibly could, and I left everything out on the field.”

Including Florida’s, the 36 gubernatorial races on state ballots offered examples of America’s cultural and ideological divides under Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Trump helped the Democrats and further divided the GOP, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 7, 2018. This account is based on more than four dozen interviews with campaign strategists, White House advisers and others, on both sides of the aisle.

keith ellison o smallMinneapolis Star-Tribune, Keith Ellison defeats Doug Wardlow in Minnesota attorney general race, Stephen Montemayor, Nov. 7, 2018. Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will be Minnesota’s next attorney general, defeating Republican Doug Wardlow after a bitter campaign marked by allegations of domestic abuse and an intense spotlight on both candidates’ pasts.

Ellison, right, helped deliver the DFL Party a sweep of the statewide elected offices and was met by a raucous room of supporters chanting his name at the party’s election night celebration in St. Paul. Ellison acknowledged the difficulty of the race but said his campaign persevered thanks to his supporters.

Ellison, who is also deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has risen to national political prominence since becoming the nation’s first Muslim congressman in 2006. In June, he surprised supporters by announcing that he would give up a safe Democratic House seat to pursue the Attorney General’s Office after Lori Swanson filed to run for governor. Ellison won the DFL Party’s primary just days after ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan alleged that he emotionally and physically abused her.

Ellison, 55, of Minneapolis, has denied Monahan’s claim, and an investigation commissioned by the DFL Party concluded that it could not substantiate the allegations. Republicans dismissed the investigation because the attorney who led the probe works for a law firm that has represented DFL Party interests.

The election promises to usher in a new era for an office led by Swanson since 2006. Ellison has said that he would approach the office as a tool to challenge certain Trump administration policies in court as other state attorneys general have since Donald Trump’s election.

Ellison said recently he would make as his “first legislative priority” safeguarding staff attorneys from being fired based on their politics — a proposal that was in direct response to a recording of Wardlow pledging to a group of Republican donors that he would purge the office of 42 DFL attorneys.

Before launching his campaign, Wardlow also worked for the national Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit legal group behind numerous court challenges to same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

Probes of Trump Team

Roll Call, Here’s How a House Democratic Majority Might Protect Mueller If Trump Fires Him, Griffin Connolly, Nov 7, 2018. With power to investigate and subpoena, Democrats have options to protect special counsel.

House Democrats, with their new majority, will have an expansive new toolkit once they take control of the chamber on Jan. 3 to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — even if acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker decides to shut it down.

If President Donald Trump, through Whitaker or his full-time replacement, does indeed order Mueller to shutter his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, that would trigger a quick response from Democrats. In two months, they will wield the all-important power of subpoenaing officials.

Democrats’ first step would be to preserve evidence Mueller has collected over roughly the last year and a half so that the Trump administration doesn’t confiscate files and hide them.

With their new majority, Democrats could bypass Trump’s Justice Department, which has the authority to enforce or toss out congressional subpoenas, by subpoenaing Mueller himself to learn what he knows.

“Either [top House Intelligence Committee Democrat] Adam Schiff or Judiciary or Oversight or all three — I would imagine they’d do this jointly — would issue a subpoena for all the documents that Mueller had in possession at the time of his removal,” Bardella said. “It would have to be a subpoena because it’s classified information.”

Democrats could then essentially move the investigation under the jurisdiction of a congressional committee and hire Mueller, to see it through with full subpoena power. That assumes Mueller would be willing to effectively work for Democrats in a highly politicized role.

The Democrats could — and probably would — instead establish a select committee with Mueller or another hand-picked investigator as the committee’s chief counsel.

Trump appears to believe that a confrontational game of chicken with House Democrats can be a political point machine for him. That’s evident from the events of Wednesday, including the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump’s combative press conference, and his tweets threatening political opponents with counter-investigations for conducting oversight of his administration.

“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Two can play that game!”

But Democrats had a warning of their own for Trump: If you fire Mueller, we’re going to investigate the circumstances of that decision — you don’t want that.

By firing Mueller, Trump would potentially be laying himself a trap by opening his administration and Justice Department up to yet another investigation, this one a sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding the decision to shut down the special counsel.

washington post logoWashington Post, With the midterms over, Mueller faces key decisions in Russia investigation, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 7, 2018.  robert mueller kit fox medill flickr croppedAmong the most pressing matters before the special counsel: a probe into longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone’s activities and ongoing negotiations for a presidential interview.

For more than seven weeks, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, shown in a file photo, has been silent.

FBI logoIn the run-up to Election Day, there were no indictments or public pronouncements by the special counsel’s office, in keeping with Justice Department guidelines that prosecutors should avoid taking steps that could be perceived as intending to influence the outcome of the vote.

With the midterm elections now over, Mueller faces key decision points in his 18-month-old investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign — a probe that has already led to charges against 32 people, including 26 Russians. Four aides to President Trump have pleaded guilty to various charges, most recently his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in September.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Sees ‘Big Victory,’ and Threatens Democrats, Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2018. The president vowed to retaliate if the new Democratic-controlled House investigates his finances and political dealings.

George W. Bush saw a “thumpin’.” Barack Obama saw a “shellacking.” Donald J. Trump sees a “Big Victory.” Never one to admit defeat, even in the face of a major setback, President Trump wasted little time on Wednesday morning trying to frame his party’s election losses as a win even though Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives.

President Donald Trump officialHis Tweet: "Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!"

But even as he claimed victory, he quickly went on offense against the newly elected Democratic House, threatening to retaliate if the opposition uses its new subpoena power to investigate him for corruption and obstruction of justice in an early foreshadowing of the bitter partisan warfare that could dominate the next two years.

“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level,” he wrote. “Two can play that game!”

Then, in a head-spinning pivot, Mr. Trump shortly afterward endorsed Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, for House speaker and even volunteered Republican votes if she cannot muster enough in her own caucus.

“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats,” he wrote. “If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!”

Whether he meant it as a gracious gesture or a tweak because he enjoys having Ms. Pelosi as a foil was not immediately clear.

While Bill Clinton, Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama expressed humility following major midterm losses in 1994, 2006 and 2010, Mr. Trump acted as if he had nothing to regret.

ny times logoNew York Times, Breaking Barriers, Letitia James Is Elected New York Attorney General, Jeffery C. Mays, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Ms. James made history on three fronts and positioned herself at the forefront of America’s legal bulwark against the policies of President Trump.

letitia james public advocateLetitia James was overwhelmingly elected as the attorney general of New York on Tuesday, shattering a trio of racial and gender barriers and placing herself in position to be at the forefront of the country’s legal bulwark against the policies of President Trump.

With her victory over Republican nominee Keith H. Wofford, Ms. James, 60, right, the public advocate for New York City, becomes the first woman in New York to be elected as attorney general, the first African-American woman to be elected to statewide office and the first black person to serve as attorney general.

The victory follows a rugged political season that arose after the surprise resignation of former attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, following charges that he physically abused multiple women. Ms. James will succeed Barbara D. Underwood, who was appointed by the State Legislature in May to complete Mr. Schneiderman’s term.

barbara underwoodMs. Underwood, left, already has dozens of cases pending against Mr. Trump, including an investigation into his charity and lawsuits to stop immigrant families from being separated at the border and to block the rollback of net neutrality and environmental regulations.

In her victory speech in Brooklyn, Ms. James vowed to continue the office’s scrutiny of the president. “He should know that we here in New York — and I, in particular — we are not scared of you,” she said. “And as the next attorney general of his home state, I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.”

Ms. James has said she will continue cases such as the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, which the state charges has misled the public about the dangers of OxyContin. She also said she intends to name a public ethics counsel, pursue criminal justice reform and push for the power to bring corruption cases independent of the governor’s office.

Newsmaking Results

Roll Call, Rosen’s Win in Nevada One Bright Spot for Senate Democrats, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018. Silver State is so far the first Senate seat Democrats have flipped. Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen won the Nevada Senate race Tuesday, defeating GOP Sen. Dean Heller in one of the most hotly contested races of the cycle. Rosen’s victory was a rare piece of good news for Democrats on a night when Republicans decisively retained control of the chamber.

jacky rosenWith 78 percent of precincts reporting, Rosen, left, led Heller 51 percent to 45 percent when The Associated Press called the race.

Heller was a top target for Democrats, who had a narrow path to flipping the chamber, defending nearly three times as many Senate seats as Republicans this year. Heller, who prior to Tuesday had never lost an election, had consistently ranked among the most vulnerable Senate incumbents as the only Republican running in a state that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Roll Call, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin Stays Put in Trump Country, Simone Pathé, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Embattled Democrat played up his willingness to work with the president and buck his own party

heidi heitkamp kevin cramerRoll Call, Heidi Heitkamp’s Loss Cements North Dakota’s Shift to the Right, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Kevin Cramer unseated Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota Senate race, defeating the last remaining Democrat to hold statewide office. With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Cramer led Heitkamp 58 percent to 42 percent when The Associated Press called the race. They are shown at right in official photos.

Roll Call, Hawley Beats McCaskill in Missouri After Stressing Supreme Court Fight, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018 (print edition). Republicans believe Kavanaugh battle helped energize their voters.

Roll Call, Democrats Score Oklahoma Upset Despite Deep-Red Struggles, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018. As Democrats struggled in deep red districts Tuesday night, Kendra Horn pulled off a surprise upset in Oklahoma. She defeated Republican Rep. Steve Russell in the 5th District, which includes Oklahoma City.

democratic donkey logoPresident Donald Trump won Russell’s district by nearly 14 points in 2016, and the race wasn’t considered a potential Democratic pickup. Russell, who was first elected in 2014, did not communicate to the National Republican Congressional Committee that he was in any trouble, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Horn defeated Russell 51 percent to 49 percent, according to The Associated Press.

beto o rourke ted cruz

republican elephant logoRoll Call, Cruz Defeats O’Rourke, Dashing Democratic Hopes in Texas, Bridget Bowman, Nov. 7, 2018. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, above right, won a second term Tuesday night, beating back a spirited challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, above left, in one of the most closely watched contests of the cycle. Cruz’s victory comes after O’Rourke had shattered fundraising records in his high-profile challenge, and could dampen Democratic hopes that the Lonestar State is shifting in their direction.

Roll Call, Polis Makes Another Bit of History With Governor Win, Alex Gangitano, Nov. 7, 2018. Colorado congressman becomes first openly gay chief executive of a state. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado made history Tuesday when he was elected the nation’s first openly gay governor.

The five-term congressman announced in June 11 2017 that he would be retiring from the House to run for governor. He beat Republican Walker Stapelton to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. The win is another milestone in the 43-year-old Polis’ barrier-breaking career. He was the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a non-incumbent.

Salt Lake Tribune, ‘Love gave me no love’: President Trump slams Utah Rep. Mia Love in post-election news conference, says she lost, Benjamin Wood, Nov. 7, 2018. President Donald Trump praised Republicans for expanding their majority in the Senate on Wednesday, while offering harsh criticism to GOP House members — including Utah’s Rep. Mia Love — who failed to wholeheartedly embrace his agenda.

Trump said Love had called him “all the time” asking for help freeing Utahn Josh Holt, who had been imprisoned in Venezuela. But her re-election campaign distanced itself from his administration, Trump said, which led to her poor performance in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.

“Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” Trump said. “Too bad. Sorry about that Mia.”

jon tester oRoll Call, Jon Tester Ekes Out Third Term in Montana, Simone Pathé, Nov. 7, 2018. Trump helped nationalize the race for GOP challenger. Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester prevailed in a tight re-election race, securing a third term in a state President Donald Trump carried by 21 points in 2016.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Tester, right, led Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale 49 percent to 48 percent when The Associated Press called the race Wednesday. Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge, who had appeared to endorse Rosendale last week, finished with just under 3 percent.

First elected in 2006, Tester has never won more than 50 percent of the vote in his previous Senate races. But his personal brand once again helped him overcome partisan leanings in Big Sky Country.

ny times logoNew York Times, Democrat Edges Out Scott Walker in Wisconsin Governor’s Race, Monica Davey, Nov. 7, 2018. The election of Tony Evers, an educator, buoyed the hopes of Democrats in a state that helped secure the presidency for Mr. Trump.

scott walker oGov. Scott Walker, right, who moved Wisconsin to the right over the last eight years, cutting taxes and sharply diminishing the power of labor unions, was defeated on Wednesday by the Democrat, Tony Evers, the state schools superintendent, The Associated Press reported.

The advantage for Mr. Evers was razor thin, a little over 1 percentage point. With more than 2.6 million votes cast and 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Evers led by about 30,000 votes.

Still, Mr. Walker was not conceding, and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, emerged to speak to supporters in the early morning hours Wednesday and suggested that a recount might be ahead. An adviser to Mr. Walker, Brian Reisinger, said that an official canvass and the counting of military ballots needed to occur before the campaign made any decision on how to proceed. Under a new set of rules in Wisconsin, a second-place finisher must be no more than 1 percentage point behind the leading vote-getter to be eligible to seek a recount, election officials said.

The outcome buoyed the hopes of Democrats in a long-divided state for a resounding return after 2016, when Wisconsin surprised many by helping secure the presidency for Donald J. Trump. This year’s Wisconsin race has been viewed as a crucial test of partisan control in the Midwest, where governors’ offices and state legislatures, including Wisconsin’s, have been dominated by Republicans.

Election Commentaries

Palmer Report, Commentary: What the hell just happened in Florida? Bill Palmer, Nov. 7, 2018. The Democrats outperformed the polls and made gains all over the place last night, including a number of red states. For that matter the Democrats outperformed in House races in Florida. So what the hell just happened in the races for Governor and Senate in Florida?

andrew gillum oAndrew Gillum, left, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida, was ahead in every poll, by an average of around four points. Bill Nelson, the Democrat running for Senate reelection in Florida, was ahead in most polls. Yet they both shockingly appear to have lost, and it looks like they’re both conveniently just outside the 0.5% margin required for an automatic recount. If this feels all too familiar, that’s because it’s precisely what happened in Florida in 2016.

Yes, polls can be wrong. But this was a night where the Democrats met expectations or outperformed in most races. They won House seats in red districts, flipping dozens of seats. They flipped several Governor races, including in Kansas.

This wasn’t a blue tsunami, but it was undoubtedly a blue wave. Yet here we are, for the second election in a row, scratching our heads at how the Democrats came in so far beneath their poll numbers in Florida. Are we really supposed to believe that the national polling outlets, which tend to be so skilled at assessing all the other states, are somehow inept when it comes to Florida?

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia candidates for governor Stacey Abrams, the Democrat at left, and Republican Brian Kemp, the reputed winner after allegations of vote suppression.

The Atlantic, Brian Kemp’s Lead in Georgia Needs an Asterisk, Carol Anderson (Professor of African American Studies at Emory University), Nov. 7, 2018. If the governor’s race had taken place in another country, the State Department would have questioned its legitimacy.

The Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, made a valiant effort to win the governor’s race in Georgia, one of the original 13 states, whose commitment to human bondage ensured that the U.S. Constitution would treat slavery with kid gloves. She tried to write a new narrative for this state.

Although Abrams has not yet conceded, citing uncounted ballots, it looks as though the other side has won, and the narrative is the same as ever. Abrams didn’t have to fight just an electoral campaign; she had to fight a civil-rights campaign against the forces of voter suppression.

Indeed, I can’t quite bring myself to say that Abrams “lost,” because there’s an asterisk next to her Republican opponent’s victory.

republican elephant logoBrian Kemp, who billed himself as a “Trump conservative,” refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with much experience monitoring elections abroad, stressed that this conflict of interest ran “counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections—that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.”

Kemp had no intention of relinquishing a post he has held since 2010, and often wields as a weapon to cull Georgia’s electorate. He understood that he would need every trick in the book because he was up against a woman who, in addition to serving as the minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, founded a formidable voter-registration organization, the New Georgia Project.

stacey abrams campaignSeveral years ago, Abrams noticed that the state’s demographics were changing quickly, as minorities made up an increasing share of the age-eligible electorate. Abrams noticed, as well, that more than half a million black Georgians were not registered to vote. In 2013, as the executive director of the New Georgia Project, she set out to “register and civically engage the rising electorate in our state.”

When tens of thousands of voter-registration cards poured into Kemp’s office, he heard warning bells. He told the media that “we’re just not going to put up with fraud,” and launched a highly publicized investigation into Abrams’s organization. While accusations of criminality hung in the air, however, he relayed a very different story to his fellow Republicans. Kemp explained to them in 2014 that “Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.”

The claim of voter fraud, it seems, was a ruse to try to intimidate the New Georgia Project, Abrams, and black voters with criminal prosecution. It didn’t work. Abrams, a Yale-educated attorney, knew the laws, knew that the New Georgia Project had not broken any, and stood her ground. Kemp was forced to walk away, unable to even charge her or the organization with any violations. (A countersuit by the New Georgia Project alleging voter suppression was thrown out.)

Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. Georgia accomplished this feat of disfranchisement based on a screening process called “exact match,” meaning the state accepted new registrations only if they matched the information in state databases precisely, including hyphens in names, accents, and even typos.

Although a judge ruled that exact match was biased and had a disparate impact on minority applicants, the Georgia legislature in 2017 scoffed at the decision and created a new exact-match program plagued by the same bias for traditional, anglicized names. Exact match is supposed to weed out attempted voter-impersonation fraud before it can begin. What it actually does is remove tens of thousands of otherwise eligible voters, overwhelmingly minorities, from the electorate.

Kemp plied his trade with purges, poll closures, registration limbo, and more. He was the voter-suppression king, who now wanted to be governor. He had the state machinery on his side, and he was ready to use it.

jennifer rubin new headshotwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s what did and didn’t work for Democrats, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 7, 2018. Democrats lost to President Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2016. Tuesday, they were delighted to see that the 2016 losses might have been an aberration. Consider that Democrats held on to all four of the Senate seats, flipped the governorship in Wisconsin and Michigan, and held the governorship in Pennsylvania. The only loss was the Ohio governorship. (More about that in a moment.)

Democrats in these states ran on health care, education and other bread-and-butter issues. They didn’t have to adopt Trump’s anti-immigrant claptrap, nor did they change their views on social issues. In other words, they had a clear message, appealed to a wide audience and were able to put together an electoral majority of college-educated whites, younger voters, women and nonwhites — President Barack Obama’s winning coalition. '

Perhaps the problem wasn’t the Democratic message of economic opportunity and fighting for the little guy but a presidential candidate in 2016 who just didn’t connect with voters and a campaign that dropped the ball. Lesson: You can keep the message, not give in to xenophobia, and still win in the Rust Belt and upper Midwest with a down-to-earth candidate.

Two final, big lessons remain for Democrats. First, exciting progressives Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke came up short, although they ran remarkably competitive races. (Abrams does have an outside shot at a runoff.) Democrats need to continue to expand the electorate, engaging and registering young people but most critically, Hispanic voters. Making such voters into reliable, regular voters should be the party’s top priority. Second, losses in the Senate should remind Democrats that not only are they not going to remove Trump by impeachment but also there is less incentive than ever for Republicans to break with him. Those who won owe their victories to him. The “moderate Republican” is essentially extinct. Democrats will need to beat a fully Trumpized GOP to complete their quest to repair our democracy and oust a dangerous, divisive president.

Slate, Trump’s Press Conference Was Nutty, Self-Absorbed, and Full of Lies, William Saletan, Nov. 7, 2018. The president dismissed the public’s election rebuke and stabbed his allies in the back. And that was just the start.

On Wednesday, for more than an hour, President Trump stood before the press fielding questions about the midterm elections and his plans for the next two years. A normal president might have lamented his party’s loss of the House, acknowledged the humbling message from voters, and thanked Republican politicians who lost their jobs on Tuesday. But not Trump. He dismissed the public’s rebuke, stabbed his allies in the back, and threatened to escalate a legal and political war with Congress. Here’s what he said.

1. Screw Republicans, it’s all about me. In his opening remarks, Trump boasted, “We saw the candidates that I supported achieve tremendous success last night.” This was a prepared talking point, and Trump made sure to include the key words: that I supported. He went on to trash, by name, Republican candidates who had avoided him during the campaign. “They did very poorly,” Trump gloated. “I feel just fine about it. Carlos Cubela. [Trump mispronounced Curbelo’s name.] Mike Coffman. Too bad, Mike. … Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.” Later, Trump bragged that he had forced out Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, creating an open seat. “I retired him. I’m very proud of it,” said the president.

Halfway through the press conference, a reporter told Trump, “Last night was not an absolute victory for you.” This was a laughably generous description, given the loss of the House. Instead, Trump protested that it wasn’t generous enough. “I thought it was a very close to complete victory,” he declared. Instead of thanking Republicans who had helped him on the trail, Trump complained that unlike Democrats, “I only had me, I didn’t have anybody else.” He told the press that his takeaway from the election was his own popularity: “That’s what I learned, [that] I was very well-received by this great country.” He also claimed that he “created the greatest economic success in the history of our country,” that he was responsible for the falling price of oil—“That’s because of me”—and that “I am a great moral leader.”

2. If the House investigates me, I won’t cooperate on legislation. “You can’t do them simultaneously,” Trump insisted, referring to investigation and legislation. “If they’re doing that, we’re not doing the other.” Specifically, he warned that if the House subpoenas his tax returns, he’ll launch counterinvestigations—and in that case, “government comes to a halt.” A reporter asked, “Can you compartmentalize that and still continue to work with [Democrats] for the benefit of the rest of the country?” Trump replied: “No. No.” He went on to explain how, having orchestrated this gridlock, he would blame Democrats for it: “Being in the majority, I’m just gonna blame them. You understand, I’m gonna blame them. They’re the majority. Honestly, it makes it much simpler for me.”

The Hill, Retiring GOP lawmaker rips Trump over midterm criticism, John Bowden, Nov. 7, 2018. Retiring GOP Rep. Ryan Costello (Pa.) ripped President Trump on Wednesday for his criticism of Republican lawmakers who lost their reelection bids, accusing the president of being the reason why Democrats picked up more than two dozen House seats on Tuesday.

Costello, who did not seek another term and saw Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District turn blue on Election Day, wrote that having Trump "piss on [you]" after being responsible for Republican losses was too much.

"To deal w harassment & filth spewed at GOP MOC’s in tough seats every day for 2 yrs, bc of POTUS; to bite ur lip more times you’d care to; to disagree & separate from POTUS on principle & civility in ur campaign; to lose bc of POTUS & have him piss on u," Costello wrote during Trump's criticism of GOP lawmakers at a White House press conference on Wednesday.

"Angers me to my core," he added.

Media News

cnn logoCNN, White House pulls CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's pass after contentious news conference, Brian Stelter, Nov. 7, 2018. In a stunning break with protocol, the White House said Wednesday night that it's suspending the press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta "until further notice."

The move came just hours after Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, drew the ire of President Donald Trump and his allies by asking multiple questions at a post-midterms news conference. Trump insulted Acosta and called him a "terrible" person.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement that Acosta would be stripped of what's known as a "hard pass," which gives him access to the White House grounds.

CNN said in a statement that Acosta has the network's full support.

The revocation of his pass "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference," the statement said. "In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls CNN reporter 'rude, terrible person,' 'enemy of the people,' Lindsey Bever, Nov. 7, 2018. President Trump lashed out at journalists during an afternoon press briefing, calling some of them “hostile,” instructing them to sit down and telling a CNN reporter, “You are a rude, terrible person.”

cnn logoThe heated exchange occurred Wednesday when CNN reporter Jim Acosta continued to question Trump after the president dismissed him during a news conference about the 2018 midterm elections. Acosta had brought up the Central American migrant caravan, asking the president why he characterized it as "an invasion.”

“I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump told Acosta.

Then when Acosta tried to question Trump about the Russia investigation, the president shouted: “That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough," telling him to “put down the mic.”

Trump then told the reporter: “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. ... You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

As The Washington Post’s Elise Viebeck reported, Trump snapped at yet another reporter later in the press conference after she noted that the president had once called himself a “nationalist" and asked him whether his embrace of “nationalism” is supporting white nationalists.

"I don’t know why you’d say that — that’s such a racist question,” Trump told PBS Newshour’s White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, who is black.

Booksellers Protest Against

amazon logo smallny times logoNew York Times, After Protest, Booksellers Are Victorious Against Amazon Subsidiary, David Streitfeld, Nov. 7, 2018. A worldwide strike by antiquarian booksellers against an Amazon subsidiary proved successful after two days, with the retailer apologizing and saying it would cancel the actions that prompted the protest.

It was a rare concerted uprising against any part of Amazon by any of its millions of suppliers, leading to an even rarer capitulation. Even the book dealers said they were surprised at the sudden reversal by AbeBooks, the company’s secondhand and rare bookselling network.

The uprising, which involved nearly 600 booksellers in 27 countries removing about four million books, was set off by the retailer’s decision to cut off stores in five countries: the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, South Korea and Russia. AbeBooks never explained its actions beyond saying it was related to payment processing.

“AbeBooks was saying entire countries were expendable to its plans,” said Scott Brown, a Eureka, Calif., bookseller who was an organizer of the strike. “Booksellers everywhere felt they might be next.”

Nov. 6

U.S. Elections Preview

ny times logoNew York Times, When Will the Results Come In? Astead W. Herndon and Jugal K. Patel, Nov. 6, 2018. An hour-by-hour mapped guide to the races at stake in the midterm elections across the country. The first polls close at 6 p.m., Eastern time, and the last closes seven hours later in Alaska. Here are the closing times, state-by-state, and what to watch each hour as the vote counting begins.

joe donnelly6 p.m., E.T. Most of Indiana / Eastern half of Kentucky. Keep an eye on the most watched race in Kentucky: the Sixth Congressional District, where Amy McGrath, a former Marine, is trying to unseat a male Republican incumbent. This race is likely to provide an early glimpse into whether the so-called blue wave is on. The big prize in Indiana is the Senate race, where Joe Donnelly, right, a Democrat, is trying to hold on to his seat.


us senate, Analysis: Forecasting the race for the Senate, Nate Silver, Nov. 6, 2018. 4 in 5 Chance Republicans keep control (81%). The chance of winning for each candidate in the 35 Senate elections taking place in 2018, as well as the controlling party for the 65 seats not on the ballot this cycle. Predicted average Republican gain: .5 seats.

U.S. House, Analysis: Forecasting the race for the House, Nate Silver, Nov. 6, 2018. 7 in 8 Chance Democrats win control (88.1%). The chance of each candidate winning, with all 435 House districts shown. Predicted average Democratic gain: 39 seats., Analysis: Forecasting the races for governor, Nate Silver, Nov. 6, 2018.

  • 195 million: Average population forecasted to be governed by Democrats
  • 134 million: Average population forecasted to be governed by Republicans
  • 24: Average number of states forecasted to be governed by Democrats
  • 26: Average number of states forecasted to be governed by Republicans

Real Clear Politics Monday Polls

Election 2018 News, Commentary

djt smiling file

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s judgment day has arrived, Bill Palmer, Nov. 6, 2018. And here we are. For the past two years since Donald Trump treasonously conspired with a foreign enemy to rig the presidential election in his favor and then illegally seized the Oval Office, the Resistance has been heroically holding America together while Trump has tried to destroy it.

If we turn out and vote today, Donald Trump and his party will never be able to pass another corrupt piece of legislation. Every complicit Republican House committee chair will be replaced with a Democrat who will work to expose Trump’s crimes and bring him to justice. Republican subpoena power will become Democratic subpoena power. Robert Mueller will be chuckling at how much easier his job just became.

If we turn out and vote today, Donald Trump will be on a path to prison. Yes, Trump and his family really will end up getting locked up. Even if Mueller and the Democrats only manage to oust him and not incarcerate him, the state of New York will take care of the rest. The five or six Trump underlings who have been sent packing for prison these past two years will look like a drop in the bucket in comparison to what’s to come.

If we turn out and vote today, America has a chance to become America again. Democracy will be back in fashion. Donald Trump will be on the run. We’ve spent these past two years holding America together by a thread. Now, today, we get to take a proverbial sledgehammer those who have been trying to destroy it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Without evidence, Trump and Sessions warn of voter fraud, Amy Gardner, Nov. 6, 2018. Accusations of voter fraud and voter suppression have roared to the forefront in several closely fought races this year, raising the possibility of recounts and disputed results among dozens of contests.

jeff sessions ag oPresident Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday issued strong warnings about the threat of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections, echoing the president’s baseless claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election and prompting accusations that his administration is trying to intimidate voters.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump said that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.” Sessions, in a statement laying out the Justice Department’s plans to monitor ballot access on Election Day, said “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”

In remarks to reporters on his way to a campaign rally in Cleveland, Trump also falsely claimed that voter fraud is commonplace.

Purged Voters Get No Notice

greg palast logo

Truthout, Purged Voters Get Out the Vote, Greg Palast, Nov. 6, 2018. On Sunday, I watched President Donald Trump warn a rally in Macon, Georgia, that Stacey Abrams, running to become the first Black female governor in US history, “is one of the most extreme far left politicians in the entire country," adding, "you know that! You put Stacey in there, you’re going to have Georgia turn into Venezuela. I don’t think the people of Georgia like that.”

Trump's rant against Abrams has not driven away her many supporters. But voters like Atlanta filmmaker Rahiem Shabazz are being driven away from the ballot box.

“I want to vote for Stacey Abrams.” Shabazz told me, but, “I won’t be able to vote in the November 6 election.”

stacy abrams brian kemp fileShabazz' voter registration, his right to vote, has been cancelled by Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, shown at right in adjoining photo.

Notably, Kemp, while running the election for the state of Georgia, is also running in the election for governor of Georgia — against Democrat Stacey Abrams (shown also at right).

rahiem shabazz palast investigative fund SmallRahiem (shown in a Palast investigative team photo) is just one of more than 340,134 Georgians Kemp has purged from the voter rolls based on dead-wrong evidence they’d moved from the state or from their home county.. It took a federal lawsuit — which I filed jointly with voting rights advocate Helen Butler — to force Kemp to divulge the names and addresses of those whose registration he cancelled in a single year, 2017.

And, while Kemp may believe that the tidal wave of purges may overcome a Democratic Blue Wave, there is another possibility: When a voter turning up to the polling station discovers his/her registration is missing or cancelled, the voter has the right, under federal law, to cast a “provisional” ballot.

However, the man who decides whether these “provisional” ballots will be counted is… Brian Kemp.

But Kemp should stop grinning. “Federal judges may feel differently about Kemp’s right not to count these provisional ballots,” says Jeanne Mirer, lead attorney on the lawsuit filed against Kemp in October. If the court determines that Kemp misused his power as Georgia’s “Purge’n General” it could order that those provisional votes be counted.

During Trump’s Georgia rally, assorted right-wing and white supremacist attendants took selfies in front of Air Force 1, while fanatics sported Qanon, Three Percenter and Oath Keepers T-shirts. Proud Boys flashed “white power” signs. One Trumper thought Abrams’ supporters should stop complaining, telling me, “We all have rules to vote. Just follow the rules.”

Still, Kemp’s wrongful purging frenzy may, in the end, backfire, even if it does not come down to a court fight over the provisional ballots.

Shabazz warns Kemp, “You took one vote away, but Stacey Abrams is going to get ten more because I'm going to bring ten more people out to vote.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Five things to look for today, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 6, 2018. More than 5,000 presidential lies later, we are ready to see if the electorate shifted in some permanent ways in 2016 or whether 2016 was a perfect storm, an aberration and a wake-up call.

The perfect storm explanation for 2016 would say that a poor presidential candidate, a complacent Democratic base, a TV celebrity candidate and a last-minute intrusion into the election campaign by FBI Director James B. Comey produced a narrow victory for President Trump, a result few expected, including the candidate.

The permanent-shift explanation is that Americans demand entertainment from politics, dismiss (or even embrace) racism and misogyny, and are indifferent about the survival of democracy. They want someone to break the furniture and don’t much care how he does it or what he says.

Here then are five questions, the answers to which will help clarify whether 2016 was closer to the perfect storm or a harbinger of a permanent shift, one that reveals democracy’s decay.

Guam Territorial Voting Results

Pacific Daily News / USA Today Network (Guam), Leon Guerrero maintains large lead, with 20 precincts counted, Staff reports, Nov. 6, 2018. Democrat Lou Leon Guerrero and running mate Joshua Tenorio retained their commanding lead in the race for governor, according to the latest batch of unofficial results, released about 12:55 a.m. on Nov. 7.

democratic donkey logoWith 20 of 67 precincts counted, Leon Guerrero has 50.7 percent of the vote, with Republican Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio receiving 25.89 percent of the vote. In the race for congressional delegate, Sen. Mike San Nicolas, D-Dededo, is leading Republican candidate and former public auditor Doris Brooks, with 53.02 percent of the vote, to Brooks' 45.77 percent.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump’s last minute voter distraction antics go off the rails, Daniel Cotter, Nov. 5, 2018. "President" Donald J. Trump is obviously scared, and also wants to try to explain the results of Tuesday should the blue wave transpire. On Monday morning, Trump tweeted: “Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!”

Trump is trying to make a big deal of illegal voting. He has claimed that during 2016, more than 3 million illegal votes were cast. Notwithstanding such scare tactics, the truth is that when a comprehensive investigation of 1 billion ballots cast, credible incidents of voter impersonation were found in 31 cases, or .0000031%.

Another statistic worth noting is the voter apathy in the United States. In the 2016 presidential election, nearly half of all eligible voters (46.9%) did not vote. If eligible voters are not heading to the polls, then who would be these illegal voters who march to the polls, risking conviction and punishment, when many of them are eligible and don’t vote as it is?

Not to be deterred, Attorney General Jeff “Suck up” Sessions issued a press release on Monday, confirming that he is sending out monitors to “35 jurisdictions in 19 states.” The jurisdictions include counties in North Dakota, Arizona, and Gwinnet and Fulton Counties in Georgia. Gwinett is the jurisdiction where thousands of absentee ballots were set aside by Brian “Corrupt as F” Kemp before a judge intervened. The press release cites potential voter fraud, which again is mostly non-existent.

Trump and Sessions should be reminded that intimidating voters is a federal crime and that any monitors sent should be very careful in interfering in local polling places. Voters should get out and vote in what is an important election and ignore what is more intimidation tactics by Trump.

Wikileaks Prosecution

Consortium News, Opinion: The West is Failing Julian Assange, Stefania Maurizi, Nov. 6, 2018. Stefania Maurizi works for the Italian daily La Repubblica as an investigative journalist, after ten years working for the Italian newsmagazine l’Espresso.

I have worked as a WikiLeaks media partner for the last nine years, and over these nine years I have met Assange many, many times, but only once did I meet him as a free man: that was back in September 2010, the very same day the Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for allegations of rape. Initially he was under house arrest with an electronic bracelet around his ankle, then he entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 19, 2012. Since then he has remained buried in that tiny embassy: a depressing building, very small, with no sunlight, no fresh air, no hour outdoors. In my country, Italy, even mafia bosses who strangled a child and dissolved his corpse in a barrel of acid enjoy an hour outdoors. Assange doesn’t.

Julian Assange’s situation is very precarious. His living conditions within the embassy have become unsustainable, and his friends speak as if there is no hope: “When the U.S. gets Julian”, they say, as if it is a foregone conclusion that the U.S. will get him and no journalist, no media, no NGO, no press association will do anything to prevent it.

In the last six years that Assange has been languishing in the embassy, not a single major Western media has dared to say: we shouldn’t keep an individual confined with no end in sight. This treatment of Julian Assange by the UK – and, more in general, by the West – is not only inhumane, but counterproductive.

Documents reveal that the UK authorities referred to the Assange case as not an ordinary one from the very beginning. “Please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request,” they wrote on January 13, 2011 to the Swedish prosecutors. A few months later, a UK official added: “I do not believe anything like this has ever happened, either in terms of speed or in the informal nature of the procedures. I suppose this case never ceases to amaze.”

What is special about this case? And why did the UK authorities keep insisting on extradition at all costs?

Nov. 5

U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Midterms test whether Republicans not named Trump can win by stoking racial animosity, Matt Viser, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). President Trump succeeded in 2016 after disparaging minority groups. That strategy has spread to other GOP campaigns, with blatant and overtly racial attacks rarely seen since the civil rights era of the 1960s.

ny times logoDonald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainNew York Times, Trump’s America: Aggrieved and Adoring Voices From Inside the Presidential Bubble, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). At rallies, the president’s most fervent supporters look past his falsehoods, racially charged statements and attacks on critics. For his party to win Tuesday, he needs them to turn out in droves.

Roll Call, DOJ Civil Rights Division to Monitor Polls in 35 Counties on Election Day, Griffin Connolly, Nov 5, 2018. Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Dakota, and Texas among 19 states where DOJ personnel will monitor polling places.

When Americans head to the polls on Tuesday for the midterm elections, voters in 35 counties — from Las Vegas to Dallas to Tampa — will head to precincts that are being closely monitored by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for “compliance with the federal voting rights laws,” the DOJ announced Monday.

“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Sessions also warned that “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated.”

In January, President Donald Trump shut down a commission he created shortly after he arrived at the Oval Office to investigate possible voter fraud. In its six months of existence, that commission did not turn up any evidence of voter fraud from the 2016 election.

The list of jurisdictions that the DOJ will monitor comprises 35 counties, including many that election experts say are pivotal battlegrounds for the outcomes of roughly a half-dozen neck-and-neck Senate races and even more House races.

Civil Rights Division personnel will observe, for example, Maricopa County, Arizona, which encompasses much of Phoenix. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema hopes to see a surge of voting in Phoenix for her Senate match-up against GOP Rep. Martha McSally, who will be looking for a strong showing from the county's non-urban reaches. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Arizona Senate race Tilts Democratic.

jacky rosenClark County (Las Vegas) and Washoe County (Reno) in Nevada will also be subject to the DOJ's monitoring efforts. Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller faces Rep. Jacky Rosen, right, in another prime pick-up opportunity for the Democrats in a race rated Tilts Democratic by Inside Elections.

In Florida, where Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has faced an historically expensive challenge from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, DOJ personnel will be keeping an eye on polling places in Pinellas County (Tampa) and Palm Beach County. Inside Elections also rates that race Tilts Democratic.

The Texas, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania Senate races will also have some polling places under DOJ surveillance.

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Vastly Different Election Outcomes That Hinge on a Few Dozen Close Contests, Nate Cohn, Nov. 5, 2018.  Democrats appear poised to win the House popular vote on Tuesday by a wide margin, with national polls showing sustained disapproval of President Trump — and yet the fate of the chamber is not a foregone conclusion.

democratic donkey logoOn the day before the midterm elections, two vastly different outcomes remain easy to imagine. There could be a Democratic blowout that decisively ends Republicans’ control of the House and even endangers their Senate majority. Or there could be a district-by-district battle for House control that lasts late on election night and perhaps for weeks after.

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, Analysis: ‘Full Trumpism’: The president’s apocalyptic attacks reach a new level of falsity, Philip Rucker, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). In the campaign’s final days, President Trump has claimed without evidence that Democrats want to destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and open the borders to violent criminals.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Will there be a youth wave? Early voting points to yes, Jacqueline Alemany, Nov. 5, 2018. Youth turnout rates in the midterm early vote are up by 125 percent compared to 2014, according to Catalist, a voter database servicing progressive organizations.

Fighting Contested Results

Columbus Free Press via OpEdNews, Warning To Democrats! Do NOT Concede!! Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Nov. 5, 2018. Donald Trump is in power in large part because Democrats have repeatedly conceded elections they really won. On Tuesday, that MUST change. Anyone deemed a close loser MUST fight. Every tally must be contested, every denial challenged, all missing ballots found, every provisional honored.

Media, Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: You ‘Approved This Message’? Seriously? Jim Rutenberg, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). In 2002, lawmakers tried to save voters from election-season sludge by adding a brief refrain as part of every commercial. Their plan didn’t count on the ugly campaign tactics of President Trump, our media columnist writes.

In the final week of the midterm campaigns, President Trump tweeted a 53-second video that interspersed footage of the caravan with a courtroom scene featuring Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant and convicted murderer. After Mr. Bracamontes boasts of killing two police officers, these words appear onscreen: “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.”

As numerous fact checkers have pointed out, the ad is false. Mr. Bracamontes was deported after entering the United States during Bill Clinton’s presidency and came back during the years George W. Bush was president. He was deported once again, only to return and kill two sheriff’s deputies in California in 2014. He had even passed through the infamous Maricopa, Ariz., jail system of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Republican, before being released on drug charges that were never resolved.

The video was so demonizing of Latino migrants and so defamatory of Democrats that it took a place alongside the infamous Willie Horton ad that helped George Bush defeat his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 presidential election.

huff post logoHuffpost, Fox News Pulls Racist Trump Ad, Lydia O’Connor, Nov. 5, 2018. The Trump-friendly network said it’s decided to stop airing the ad “upon further review.” Fox News said Monday it has stopped airing the controversial political ad paid for by President Donald Trump’s campaign, which likens members of the Central American migrant caravan to a man convicted of killing police officers in the U.S.

fox news logo SmallThe Trump-friendly network’s decision comes after CNN made headlines on Saturday for refusing to air it and after NBC came under fire for running it during prime time on Sunday night.

“Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network,” ad sales president Marianne Gambelli said in a statement.

Trump re-election official Brad Parscale responded on Twitter: So, @NBCNews @CNN @facebook have chosen to stand with those ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY. Instead of standing with LEGAL IMMIGRANTS and those that follow our laws. The #FakeNewsMedia and #PaloAltoMafia are trying to control what you see and how you think. STOP THE CARAVAN!

The ad is Trump’s latest effort to rouse fear about the migrant caravan in the days ahead of the midterm elections. Last week, he announced he was sending more than 5,200 troops to the U.S.’s southern border despite the caravan being weeks away and posing no known threat.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump camp goes berserk after NBC and Fox News cancel his racist caravan ad, Bill Palmer, Nov. 5, 2018. Various television networks, including CNN, have made clear from the start that they would not run Donald Trump’s racist and fictional “caravan” ad, no matter how much money they were being offered for the ad placement. But during last night’s NFL Sunday Night Football game, NBC decided to run the ad. Palmer Report and others quickly organized a pushback campaign, and while the ad did run again this morning, it’s now been pulled – and not just from NBC.

Early this afternoon, NBC and Fox News released separate statements announcing that they were canceling the remainder of the ad run. Facebook also announced that it would stop allowing Donald Trump to run the ad on its social network. Just how racist and dishonest does an ad have to be for Fox News to decide it’s gone too far? Suffice it to say that Trump and his people were not happy.

Brad Parscale, the “campaign manager” for Donald Trump’s imaginary 2020 reelection campaign, angrily lashed out on Twitter at NBC and Facebook, but conveniently left out the fact that Fox News had also dropped the ad. These television networks never should have aired this ad to begin with. But, at the least, this is further proof that mainstream Americans can work together and force soulless corporate entities to bend to their will.

Fallen Utah Mayor Urged Voting

huff post logoHuffington Post, Utah Mayor Pleaded With Americans To Vote Before He Was Killed In Afghanistan, Mary Papenfuss, Nov. 5, 2018. Utah mayor Brent Taylor, a major in the Utah National Guard, pleaded with “united” Americans in a moving Facebook post to vote just days before he was killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan.

The emotional appeal came after Taylor witnessed Afghanistan citizens risking their lives to cast their votes.

The “beautiful” turnout of 4 million voters who braved “threats and deadly attacks” was a “success for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan and for the cause of human freedom,” wrote Taylor, the mayor of the small town of North Ogden, with a population of 17,000. He became mayor of the town, located an hour north of Salt Lake City, in 2013.

“As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us,” he wrote in his last post.

Taylor, a father of seven young children, also posted photos of people voting in Afghanistan. He ended his post: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration prepares for massive shake-up after midterms, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Nov. 5, 2018. The expected exodus would bring fresh uncertainty and churn to the White House, and many in the president’s orbit worry that the administration will face challenges filling the vacancies.

washington post logoryan zinke oWashington Post, Newly released emails suggest Zinke contradicted ethics pledge, Juliet Eilperin​, Nov. 5, 2018. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, right, continued to engage in discussions involving his family foundation’s property in summer 2017 despite the fact that he had pledged to recuse himself from such matters for a year, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

At issue is an August 2017 email exchange with David Taylor, the city planner for Whitefish, Mont. Zinke authorized him to access the property and explained that he was engaged in negotiations with a real estate developer over building a parking lot on his foundation’s land.

But under an ethics pledge he signed Jan. 10, 2017, Zinke vowed to step down from his position as president of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation after winning confirmation and refrain from participating in any matters concerning the group for one year.

U.S. Farmers / Trade / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Farmers Wince in Trump Country as Soybean Exports to China Fall 94%, Binyamin Appelbaum, Nov. 5, 2018. This is harvest season in the rich farmlands of the eastern Dakotas, where farmers have prospered over the last two decades by selling soybeans to the Chinese. But this year, the Chinese have all but stopped buying.

Amazon Picks New Sites?

ny times logoNew York Times, Amazon Marches Closer to Its Goal of Becoming the Everything Company, David Streitfeld, Nov. 6, 2018. What a farce. That was one of the immediate reactions when word leaked out on Monday that Amazon’s much-ballyhooed search for a second headquarters outside of Seattle would result in not one, but two new locations. On Twitter, people used farce, sham or stunt to describe what had happened.

amazon logo smallAmazon’s critics were apoplectic at what they called a bait and switch. From the company’s point of view, however, things seem to be working out rather nicely.

The quest kept a persistent spotlight on Amazon as the suitor everyone sought — would it choose Denver? maybe Atlanta? surely Chicago? — even as the company apparently decided instead to set up smaller operations in the Washington metro area and in New York City, the two most obvious places all along.

Cops, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, CIA contractor gets 3-month prison sentence for taking home classified information, Rachel Weiner, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). A former CIA contractor who kept 60 notebooks full of classified information will spend three months in prison.

cia logoWhy Reynaldo Regis over his 10 years at the agency felt compelled to look up classified information about individuals outside his purview and take it home with him, however, remains a mystery.

“The $64 question is why he was keeping those notebooks,” U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady said Friday before sentencing Regis in an Alexandria courtroom.

david petraeus cia oRegis, a Philippine native who spent 25 years in the U.S. military and held a top-secret security clearance, only told O’Grady, “I’m really sorry for what I have done . . . truly sorry.”

Sentences in such cases vary widely. A National Security Administration employee who brought work on sensitive hacking tools home was recently sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge in Maryland. But retired Army general and former CIA director David Petraeus, left, and former national security adviser Sandy Berger both got probation for taking home classified information.

Global News

washington post logoiran flag mapWashington Post, Iran vows to ‘break’ U.S. sanctions and resist ‘psychological warfare’ as Trump reimposes penalties, Erin Cunningham and Carol Morello, Nov. 5, 2018. The unilateral sanctions reintroduce some of the most crippling restrictions on Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors.

Iran’s military forces staged war exercises and its president defiantly vowed Monday to “break” U.S. sanctions on oil sales that were reimposed at midnight, as Tehran resisted a Trump administration pressure campaign aimed at isolating the country economically.

“We will proudly break the sanctions,” Rouhani said during a meeting of government officials in the Iranian capital.

Rouhani’s vow to keep exporting oil came as the Trump administration snapped back sanctions on more than 700 individuals and companies that received sanctions relief when a landmark 2015 nuclear deal took effect.

The unilateral sanctions reintroduce some of the most crippling restrictions on Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors and seek to penalize even non-U.S. entities that do business with Iran.

ny times logoNew York Times, As U.S. Sanctions on Iran Kick In, Europe Looks for a Workaround, Steven Erlanger, Nov. 5, 2018. The Trump administration’s decision to quit the nuclear treaty with Tehran and restore the measures has divided Washington from its closest allies.

The Europeans consider the 2015 Iran nuclear deal crucial to their national interests, and say they intend to keep honoring it. But to date, they have not managed to put in place a mechanism for sidestepping the sanctions without antagonizing the Trump administration.

Realistically, European officials say, they may be able to preserve only 20 percent to 30 percent of existing trade with Iran, given that large European companies with ties to the United States have already pulled out of Iran or are in the process of doing so to avoid the sanctions.

king abdullah left crown prince salman abdul aziz third right praying during 2103 funeral saudi press agency via ap

Saudi leaders at 2013 funeral (Saudi royal family photo via Associated Press)

washington post logoWashington Post, A year after Ritz-Carlton roundup, Saudi elites remain jailed by crown prince, Kevin Sullivan and Kareem Fahim, Nov. 5, 2018. Human rights activists and other analysts said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be preparing to release more detainees to help cool the furor over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Somewhere in this kingdom, Prince Turki bin Abdullah is locked away.

Turki, 47, was once a golden scion of Saudi Arabia’s gilded royal family, a prominent son of former King Abdullah and a fighter pilot with advanced degrees who trained in the United States and Britain. He was the powerful governor of Riyadh province, then chief executive of the multibillion-dollar King Abdullah Foundation, which funds charitable work around the world.

He is now among an unknown number of superwealthy Saudis who remain detained a full year after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman startled his country by turning Riyadh’s posh Ritz-Carlton hotel into a 5-star jail for some of the nation’s most prominent citizens in what he called an anti-corruption sweep.

Prince Turki, who officials have reportedly accused of graft related to construction of the Riyadh subway, remains detained without any formal charges. His chief of staff, Gen. Ali al-Qahtani, was also arrested and died in detention under circumstances that have never been fully explained.

Early this year, the Saudi attorney general said 56 men remained locked up, some the subject of criminal investigations, with more than $106 billion in cash, real estate, businesses, securities and other assets recovered in the Ritz operation.

Mohammed said in interview last month with Bloomberg only eight men were still detained. He offered no other details, except to say, “They’re with their lawyers and facing the system that we have in Saudi Arabia.”

But other people familiar with the detentions said the number is much higher, with 45 Ritz detainees still locked up.

Nov. 4

2018 U.S. Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why this election matters so much, Editorial Board, Nov. 4, 2018 (print edition). The stakes are higher than usual, much higher, in next Tuesday’s election. At issue is not simply the future of federal legislation on health care, taxes and many other policy matters, important as they are. Rather, the pivotal question this November is whether the American electorate will reward a campaign based on divisiveness and dishonesty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Anxiety high in campaign’s final days as voters prepare to render judgment on Trumpism, Matt Viser and Philip Rucker, Nov. 4, 2018 (print edition). As the midterms roared into their final weekend — with the biggest names in both parties exhorting their followers to vote — tight races across the country were setting the stage for an uncertain, but dramatic, conclusion. Much is on the line as voters will render a nationwide judgment on whether Trumpism is a historic anomaly or a reflection of modern-day America.

Two years of political volatility will culminate Tuesday when voters for the first time since the stunning 2016 election render a nationwide judgment on whether Trumpism is a historic anomaly or a reflection of modern-day America.

As the midterms roared into their final weekend — with the biggest names in both parties exhorting their followers to vote — uncertainty enveloped the contest amid signs that tightening races appeared headed toward dramatic finishes.

Just how many House seats Democrats might pick up — they need a net gain of 23 to win the majority — remained unclear. Republicans are favored to keep control of the Senate, but enough top-tier races from Florida to Nevada to Tennessee and Missouri were sufficiently close that the outcome was in doubt. And in two closely watched gubernatorial races, where African American Democrats in Georgia and Florida are seeking to make history, the contests looked to be coming down to the wire.

Election Fraud Claims Mount

stacy abrams brian kemp file

washington post logoWashington Post, Brian Kemp’s office orders ‘hacking’ probe of Ga. Democrats on eve of election he’s competing in, Avi Selk, Vanessa Williams and Amy Gardner​, Nov. 4, 2018. As Georgia's secretary of state, Kemp oversees the same election he is competing in for governor. Democrats called the investigation a sham and abuse of power.

But voters’ rights groups pushed back within hours of the announcement, suggesting that the investigation was a political distraction after Democratic officials, among others, alerted authorities over the weekend to security vulnerabilities in the voting system Kemp oversees. The Abrams' campaign called the investigation “nothing more than a pathetic attempt to cover up for his failures.”

republican elephant logoThe office of the secretary of state, which Democrats have accused throughout Kemp’s campaign of manipulating the electoral system for his benefit, announced the investigation Sunday morning with an all-caps headline that appeared directly below a voter’s guide on a government website.

The attached statement contained no evidence and almost no details on the Democratic Party of Georgia’s “possible cyber crimes,” but it said Kemp’s office had launched the investigation Saturday evening and alerted the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The investigation was immediately condemned as a political ploy by Democrats and some commentators, who believe Kemp should not oversee an election in which he is competing.

“Brian Kemp’s scurrilous claims are 100 percent false, and this so-called investigation was unknown to the Democratic Party of Georgia until a campaign operative in
Kemp’s official office released a statement this morning,” Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the state Democratic Party, wrote in a statement to reporters. “This is yet another example of abuse of power by an unethical Secretary of State.”

whowhatwhy election integrity feed

WhoWhatWhy graphic illustrating its ongoing investigations of voter suppression and electronic election frauds

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Georgia's voter registration system like open bank safe door, Jordan Wilkie and Timothy Pratt, Nov. 4, 2018. Two days before the midterm elections, a series of security vulnerabilities have been discovered that would allow even a low-skilled hacker to compromise Georgia’s voter registration system and, in turn, the election itself. It is not known how long these vulnerabilities have been in place or whether they have already been exploited.

Just before noon on Saturday, a third party provided *WhoWhatWhy* with an email and document, sent from the Democratic Party of Georgia to election security experts, that highlights “massive” vulnerabilities within the state’s My Voter Page and its online voter registration system.

According to the document, it would not be difficult for almost anyone with minimal computer expertise to access millions of people’s private information and potentially make changes to their voter registration — including canceling it.

In this election and during the primaries, voters have reported not showing up in the poll books, being assigned to the wrong precinct, and being
issued the wrong ballot.

All of that could be explained by a bad actor changing voter registration data — and at this point there may be no way of knowing if that happened.

It is not clear what impact — if any — this will have on Tuesday’s elections, or what it has had on early voting. Voters should still go to the polls and, if they are encountering problems, ask to cast a provisional ballot as is their right.

*WhoWhatWhy *contacted five computer security and election systems experts to review the document.

None of these cyber security experts tested the vulnerabilities described, downloaded any files, or altered any data.

All five noted that testing these vulnerabilities without permission would be illegal.

Instead, several logged onto the My Voter Page to look at the code used to build the site — something any Georgian voter could do with a little
instruction — and confirmed the voter registration system’s vulnerabilities.

They all agreed with the assessment that the data of voters could easily be accessed and changed.

Mass Shooting In Florida

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who had been accused of groping opens fire on Tallahassee yoga class, killing two, police say, Avi Selk, Nov. 4, 2018 (print edition). Shooting at Tallahassee yoga studio rattles Florida. A man who had been repeatedly accused of groping women and linked to misogynistic YouTube rants walked into a yoga class and opened fire on Friday evening, according to Tallahassee police, shooting six people and killing two of them.

scott paul beierlePolice said the shooting suspect, Scott Paul Beierle (shown in a mug shot), 40, killed himself minutes before they arrived at the Hot Yoga studio, which sits above a row of restaurants at a northern Tallahassee shopping center.

About a dozen people were inside Hot Yoga when a man with a black bag walked in around 5:30 p.m., the Tallahassee Democrat reported. The studio had advertised a Pilates certification class for the weekend.

Among the yoga students were Florida State University student Maura Binkley, 21, and 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem, a local physician and a faculty member at Florida State. Both women were killed in the gunfire.

Axios Sneak Peek, Trump: Saudis "don't know how to use" U.S. bombs, Jonathan Swan, Nov. 4, 2018. In August, Saudi-led coalition forces used an American bomb to blow up a school bus in Yemen, reportedly killing at least 51 people, including 40 children. In his first public comments on that attack. President Trump told Axios on HBO that the killings were "a horror show." But he declined to say if it's made him reassess American arms sales to the Saudis.

 "I think it's a terrible situation. I hated seeing what happened with the bus and the children cause that's pure — that's a horror show when you see a thing like that, you saw the bus."

Why it matters: Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN. The U.S. has been selling the Saudis weapons to fight the Iran-backed Houthis, and Trump has boasted repeatedly about the size of his Saudi arms deal.

I asked Trump whether it bothered him that the Saudi-led coalition has been using U.S. bombs to kill civilians. What's next: Last week, the U.S. called for a cease-fire, but within two days, per the Washington Post, "the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition launched a fresh offensive."

Voter Impact On Mueller

Palmer Report, Opinion: You can vote for Robert Mueller on Tuesday. No, really, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2018. Donald Trump is on the ballot in every single House and Senate race; you just won’t see his name. There’s also another person on the ballot: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. By all accounts he’s gearing up to make his big move against Trump shortly after the election. He’s simply waiting to see how things shake out, so he can decide how to proceed – and he needs your help.

robert mueller screenshot washington postIf the Democrats win the House, it will allow Robert Mueller, right, to hand his findings and recommendations to the House, and let the Democrats run with it. After all, the destruction and ouster of a criminally corrupt president is still ultimately a political process. House Democrats can immediately begin holding daily televised hearings to destroy Trump one swift blow at a time, even while sending subpoenas flying and taking a proverbial buzzsaw to what little is left of Trump’s viability.

If the Republicans retain control of the House and Senate, that will leave Robert Mueller as the lone ranger. Much as we might enjoy the visual, it’s not the ideal scenario. Mueller would be forced to try more unilateral and riskier moves.

Booksellers Boycott Against

ny times logoNew York Times, Sellers Unite to Pull Books Off Amazon-Owned Site in Protest, David Streitfeld, Nov. 4, 2018. More than 250 antiquarian book dealers in 24 countries say they are pulling over a million books off an Amazon-owned site for a week, an impromptu protest after the site abruptly moved to ban sellers from several nations.

The flash strike against the site, AbeBooks, which is due to begin Monday, is a rare concerted action by vendors against any part of Amazon, which depends on third-party sellers for much of its merchandise and revenue. The protest arrives as increasing attention is being paid to the extensive power that Amazon wields as a retailer — a power that is greatest in books.

amazon logo smallThe stores are calling their action Banned Booksellers Week. The protest got its start after AbeBooks sent emails last month to booksellers in countries including South Korea, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia to say that it would no longer “support” them. “We apologize for this inconvenience,” the company said.

As the news spread, even unaffected dealers were surprised and angered. AbeBooks, together with Amazon itself, is by far the biggest international marketplace for secondhand and rare books.

AbeBooks lists millions of books and manages the payments. The booksellers mail the books directly from their shops. The platform was founded in 1995 and was bought by Amazon in 2008. It continues to operate independently, and many of its customers never even realize who the owner is. AbeBooks is based in Victoria, British Columbia, where it started.

The Amazon subsidiary told the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers that it was scaling back because “it is no longer viable for us to operate in these countries due to increasing costs and complexities.”

Peter Harrington, a leading London antiquarian dealer, said AbeBooks’ “high-handed manner” was at the root of the protest, with the platform taking the affected booksellers and “destroying their livelihoods in just a couple of impersonal sentences.”

Dealers in 24 countries say they are removing over a million books from AbeBooks for a week after the site moved to ban sellers from several nations.

The flash strike is a rare concerted action by vendors against any part of Amazon, which depends on third-party sellers.

Nov. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Has Strong Economy to Tout, but Trump Rhetoric Muddies Message, Astead W. Herndon and Sydney Ember, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). A glowing jobs report right before an election should be a gift to the party in power and a uniform talking point for its candidates. But President Trump’s strident tone on immigration is drowning out the good news, creating a political bind Republicans did not envision.

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Reluctant to Speak Out, an Energized Obama Now Calls Out His Successor, Peter Baker, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). Former President Barack Obama’s voice has a way of lifting into a high-pitched tone of astonishment when he talks about his successor, almost as if he still cannot believe that the Executive Mansion he occupied for eight years is now the home of President Trump.

bo solo 8 4 14For most of the last two years, he stewed about it in private, only occasionally speaking out. But as he hit the campaign trail this fall, Mr. Obama (shown in a file photo) has vented his exasperation loud and often, assailing his successor in a sharper, more systematic way arguably than any former president has done in three-quarters of a century.

Although some admirers believe he remains too restrained in an era of Trumpian bombast, Mr. Obama has excoriated the incumbent for “lying” and “fear-mongering” and pulling “a political stunt” by sending troops to the border. As he opened a final weekend of campaigning before Tuesday’s midterm elections, Mr. Obama has re-emerged as the Democrats’ most prominent face, pitting president versus president over the future of the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama rips hecklers: Why are the people who won the last election ‘so mad all the time?’ Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Nov. 3, 2018. For former president Barack Obama, it was a spontaneous response to a parade of hecklers — not a teleprompter remark that had been vetted for maximum effect — but it still seemed to sum up the final weeks of a searing midterm election campaign characterized by incendiary rhetoric, politically motivated package bombs and hate.

“Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” Obama asked a crowd of 4,000 as the fifth interrupting protester was escorted out of a Miami rally on Friday. Any further shouts were drowned out by the crowd’s roar.

whowhatwhy election integrity feed

WhoWhatWhy graphic illustrating its ongoing investigations of voter suppression and electronic election frauds

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Voting Machines — Unregulated, Unverifiable, Easy to Hack, Staff report, Nov. 3, 2018. On Tuesday, millions of Americans will cast their ballots on antiquated machines built when many voters were still in diapers. These machines use software that is even older. They are easy to hack, yet election officials don’t want to recognize that this is a problem.

Georgia GOP Voter Suppression Thwarted

brian kemp

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rules against Brian Kemp over Ga. voting restrictions days before gubernatorial election, Eli Rosenberg, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). The state must change its procedures to make it easier for some people flagged under the state’s restrictive “exact match” law to vote, a federal judge ruled, dealing a blow to Kemp, right, the GOP gubernatorial candidate and secretary of state.

Georgia must change its procedures to make it easier for some people flagged under the state’s restrictive “exact match” law to vote, a federal judge ruled Friday, dealing a blow to Republican gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

The “exact match” law flags voter registrations that are found to have discrepancies, such as a dropped hyphen, with other official identifications. Potential voters are allowed to settle the discrepancy by providing proof of identity.

stacey abrams campaignBut the state’s procedures under Kemp, whose office oversees elections, stipulated that those who had been flagged as potential noncitizens be cleared first by a deputy registrar when seeking to vote. In October, a coalition of civil rights groups sued him.

[Kemp is both supervising election rules as secretary of state and also running as the GOP candidate for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, left, an African-American and state legislative leader hoping to energize new voters.]

U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross ruled Friday that the procedures were likely to result in the violation of voting rights for a large group of people and needed to be halted immediately. She said Kemp’s restrictions raised “grave concerns for the Court about the differential treatment inflicted on a group of individuals who are predominantly minorities."

The preliminary injunction she issued required the state to change its procedures immediately to allow those flagged, some 3,100 individuals, to prove their citizenship more easily, with a U.S. passport or similar documentation, and only to a poll manager. It also signaled that the coalition of civil rights groups that brought the case against Kemp would probably succeed should the lawsuit continue.

Another Mass Shooting, Analysis

BuzzFeed News, Tallahassee Yoga Shooter Was A Far-Right Misogynist Who Railed Against Women And Minorities, David Mack, Amber Jamieson and Julia Reinstein, Scott Beierle killed two women at a Florida yoga studio on Friday night. He had posted a series of misogynistic videos and songs online, and appeared to identify as an “involuntary celibate.” This is the second deadly attack by an “involuntary celibate” in 2018.

The man who shot dead two women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday before killing himself was a far-right extremist and self-proclaimed misogynist who railed against women, black people, and immigrants in a series of online videos and songs.

Scott Beierle, 40, was named by Tallahassee Police as the shooter who opened fire inside the Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio, killing two and injuring four other women and a man.

Those killed were named as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, who worked at Florida State University’s College of Medicine, and FSU student Maura Binkley, 21.

On a YouTube channel in 2014, Beierle filmed several videos of himself offering extremely racist and misogynistic opinions, in which he called women “sluts” and “whores,” and lamented “the collective treachery” of girls he went to high school with.

“There are whores in — not only every city, not only every town, but every village,” he said, referring to women in interracial relationships, whom he said had betrayed “their blood.”

The Tallahassee Police Department could not tell BuzzFeed News whether women were specifically targeted in the attack.

ny times logoNew York Times, How U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism, Janice Reitman, Nov. 3, 2018. For two decades, domestic counterterrorism strategy has ignored the rising danger of far-right extremism.In the atmosphere of willful indifference, a virulent movement has grown and metastasized.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. militia groups head to border, stirred by what they see as Trump’s call to arms, Mary Lee Grant and Nick Miroff, Nov. 3, 2018. Local landowners are worried, and U.S. military planners see potential dangers in the armed groups.

Gun-carrying civilian groups and border vigilantes have heard a call to arms in President Trump’s warnings about threats to American security posed by caravans of Central American migrants moving through Mexico. They’re packing coolers and tents, oiling rifles and tuning up aerial drones, with plans to form caravans of their own and trail American troops to the border.

“We’ll observe and report, and offer aid in any way we can,” said Shannon McGauley, a bail bondsman in the Dallas suburbs who is president of the Texas Minutemen. McGauley said he was preparing to head for the Rio Grande in coming days.

“We’ve proved ourselves before, and we’ll prove ourselves again,” he said.

McGauley and others have been roused by the president’s call to restore order and defend the country against what Trump has called “an invasion,” as thousands of Central American migrants advance slowly through southern Mexico toward the U.S. border. Trump has insisted that “unknown Middle Easterners,” “very tough fighters,” and large numbers of violent criminals are traveling among the women, children and families heading north on foot.

Economics / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Economic / Political Opinion: The Perversion of Fiscal Policy (Slightly Wonkish), Paul Krugman, right, paul krugmanNov. 2, 2018. Austerity in a slump, stimulus in a boom.

As many people have pointed out, the Trump tax represented a total break with the normal principles of fiscal policy. Historically, we’ve tended to run big deficits when the economy is weak, smaller deficits or surpluses when it’s strong. But now the deficit is soaring even in the face of low unemployment. This is irresponsible, and shows that Republican handwringing over deficits was always phony – which some of us pointed out at the time.

But something that has been pointed out less is that this is actually part of a broader story: fiscal policy has been off the rails since 2010, not because of what it has done to the national debt, but because of what it has done to the macroeconomy.

Here’s what fiscal policy should do: it should support demand when the economy is weak, and it should pull that support back when the economy is strong.

Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as an Op-Ed columnist. He is distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York. In addition, he is professor emeritus of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

Saudi Sisters In NYC: Suicide? Murder?

washington post logoWashington Post, No indication Saudi sisters found in NYC were killed, authorities say, Justin Jouvenal, Nov. 3, 2018 (print edition). The bizarre discovery of the women from Fairfax County, dead and bound with duct tape, turned the case into national news and left a lingering mystery: Had they been killed? The New York City police said Friday the medical examiner has not yet made a determination on the cause or manner of death.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s border deployments could cost $200 million by end of 2018, Paul Sonne, Nov. 3, 2017. The operations come as the White House calls on the Pentagon to slash its budget for next year in response to the largest increase in the federal deficit in six years.

Nov. 2

Trump Pumps Race Fears

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ratchets up racially divisive messages in a bid to rally support in the midterms, Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 2, 2018 (print edition). President Trump, joined by many Republican candidates, is dramatically escalating his efforts to take advantage of racial divisions and cultural fears in the final days of the midterm djt economist cover aug 19 2017campaign, part of an overt attempt to rally white supporters to the polls and preserve the GOP’s congressional majorities.

On Thursday, Trump (shown in a file photo of an Economist cover) ratcheted up the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has been the centerpiece of his midterm push by portraying a slow-moving migrant caravan, consisting mostly of families traveling on foot through Mexico, as a dangerous “invasion” and suggesting that if any migrants throw rocks they could be shot by the troops that he has deployed at the border. The president also vowed to take action next week to construct “massive tent cities” aimed at holding migrants indefinitely and making it more difficult for them to remain in the country.

“If you don’t want America to be overrun by masses of illegal aliens and giant caravans, you better vote Republican,” Trump said at a rally here Thursday evening.

washington post logoWashington Post, After GOP’s 2018 tax cut plans fell apart, immigration filled the campaign void, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, Nov. 2, 2018. With their 2018 tax plans having failed to come to fruition and their 2017 tax law still polling poorly, President Trump and some other Republicans have made a hard pivot away from economics and into nationalism to energize the conservative base ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Inside DC

washington post logoryan zinke oWashington Post, White House is increasingly concerned Interior Secretary Zinke violated federal rules, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Lisa Rein, Nov. 2, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has asked aides for more information about a Montana land deal under scrutiny by the Justice Department, according to two senior administration officials. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is shown at right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s election-eve border mission puts the military in partisan crosshairs, Greg Jaffe and Dan Lamothe​, Nov. 2, 2018. President Trump’s decision to send as many as 15,000 troops to the southern border has drawn sharp and unusual criticism from former military leaders. Their blunt words reflect the strain that his unusual presidency has put on one of America’s most important norms: the tradition of an apolitical military.

washington post logoWashington Post, FDA approves a powerful new opioid despite fears of more overdose deaths, Lenny Bernstein, Nov. 2, 2018. The agency approved the new painkiller for use in health-care settings, rejecting criticism from some of its own advisers that it would inevitably be diverted to illicit use. The drug is five to 10 times more potent than pharmaceutical fentanyl.

washington post logokanye west maga hat twitterWashington Post, Kanye West finally became an Obama supporter, David Swerdlick, Nov. 2, 2018. Distancing himself from Trump this week, West declared support for a big chunk of the former president’s agenda. The rapper shown at right wearing a "Make America Great Again" along with a sweatshirt with the name of civil rights protester Colin Kaepernick, has 28 million Twitter followers and recently made news by praising Donald Trump in an extended rant with the president in the Oval Office.

Trump Probes, Suits

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge denies Trump request to stay emoluments suit, could allow plaintiffs to seek details on hotel’s foreign customers, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Nov. 2, 2018. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Greenbelt, Md., denied the Justice Department’s request that he pause the case alleging that the president is violating the Constitution by continuing to do business with foreign governments.

washington post logoWashington Post, High court lets trial proceed on census citizenship question, Robert Barnes, Nov. 2, 2018.​ The Supreme Court refused to delay an upcoming trial in which a number of states and civil rights organizations allege there was an improper political motive in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Saudi Murder Of Journalist

king abdullah left crown prince salman abdul aziz third right praying during 2103 funeral saudi press agency via ap

Saudi leaders at 2013 funeral (Saudi royal family photo via Associated Press)

washington post logorecep erdogan throneWashington Post, Opinion: Saudi Arabia still has many questions to answer about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (president of Turkey, shown at right in a file photo,), Nov. 2, 2018. The story is all too familiar: Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and a family man, entered Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 for marriage formalities. No one – not even his fiancee, who was waiting outside the compound — has ever seen him again.

Over the course of the past month, Turkey has moved heaven and earth to shed light on all aspects of this case. As a result of our efforts, the world has learned that Khashoggi was killed in cold blood by a death squad, and it has been established that his murder was premeditated.

Yet there are other, no less significant questions whose answers will contribute to our understanding of this deplorable act. Where is Khashoggi’s body? Who is the “local collaborator” to whom Saudi officials claimed to have handed over Khashoggi’s remains? Who gave the order to kill this kind soul? Unfortunately, the Saudi authorities have refused to answer those questions.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi involves a lot more than a group of security officials, just as the Watergate scandal was bigger than a break-in and the 9/11 terror attacks went beyond the hijackers. As responsible members of the international community, we must reveal the identities of the puppetmasters behind Khashoggi’s killing and discover those in whom Saudi officials — still trying to cover up the murder — have placed their trust.

U.S. Politics / Dirty Tricks?

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and the Hart-less Presidency, Maureen Dowd, Nov. 2, 2018. After 30 years, Gary Hart still wonders what might have been.

While the rest of us obsess on what happened in 2016 and what will happen on Tuesday, Gary Hart is bedeviled by what happened in 1987, and whether the tabloid mania sparked by his liaison with Donna Rice led down a rattlesnake-filled path straight to our tabloid president.

gary hart the front runner jason reitman directorHart, and a new Jason Reitman movie about the Rice imbroglio, The Front Runner, both pose the question: Is there a direct connection between Hart’s fall and Trump’s rise?

If reporters had not hidden in the bushes, would there have been any Bushes?

“I bear a very heavy burden of responsibility,” Hart says, picking at a “game plate” of elk, buffalo and quail at The Fort restaurant outside of Denver. “If all that stuff had not happened and if I had been elected, there would have been no gulf war. H.W. wouldn’t have been president. W. wouldn’t have been president. Everything would have changed. I don’t say that to aggrandize myself. It’s just, history changed.

“And that has haunted me for thirty years. I had only one talent and it wasn’t traditional politics — I could see farther ahead than anybody.’’

Hart maintained that “there was no relationship” with Rice. Rice — who became an evangelical and supports Trump — told People this week, “I’m just not discussing it.” But a married candidate can’t have a gorgeous young model fly up to D.C. from Miami for the weekend to visit his house — “the infamous townhouse,’’ as Hart’s son dryly calls it — and not attract questions if they are seen.

A recent piece by James Fallows in The Atlantic reported that Lee Atwater, the Republican dirty trickster and Poppy Bush party chief, confessed before his death that he had set up Hart for his weekend of doom on “Monkey Business.”

“That’s the only way that 48-hour period makes any sense,’’ Hart told me.

See also for background:

  • Miami Herald, The Gary Hart Story: How It Happened, by Jim McGee, Tom Fiedler and James Savage, May 10, 1987. This article was prepared by Jim McGee, Tom Fiedler and James Savage. It was first published in the Miami Herald on May 10, 1987. It is reprinted with permission of The Miami Herald. Note: This article is from  the University of North Carolina “AFS” site, which is being close on Nov. 13, 2018.
  • The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

Nov. 1

U.S. Elections 2018

ny times logoU.S. House logoNew York Times, Meet the Would-Be House Committee Leaders Who Could Torment Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Catie Edmondson, Nov. 1, 2018 (print edition). If Democrats win control of the House, they will gain control of powerful committees that could put a check on Mr. Trump’s agenda. Expect subpoenas, must-see hearings and lots of investigations.

democratic donkey logoIn the House, the majority rules. Just ask Democrats, who have introduced bills destined for nowhere, watched oversight requests pile up and seen Republicans overrule most of their policy efforts. But if the Democrats take the House on Nov. 6, they will assume control of two of the most powerful tools in Washington: gavels and subpoenas.

Trump Complains Mass Murder Hurt GOP Campaign 'Momentum'

CNN, Trump laments that 'two maniacs' stopped GOP momentum in midterms, Caroline Kelly and Betsy Klein, Nov. 1, 2018. Trump: Maniacs stopped the momentum.

President Donald Trump lamented on Thursday that last week's two domestic terror incidents had stopped Republican momentum ahead of the midterm elections.Trump said the pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democratic politicians and CNN and the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue had taken attention away from the Republican campaign to hold on to control of Congress during the midterms.

"We did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections," he said during his closing remarks at a Missouri rally. "It stopped a tremendous momentum."

Trump acknowledged the human cost of the package bombs and the shooting.

"More importantly, we have to take care of our people, and we don't care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to our country," he added. "But it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum, and now the momentum is picking up."

National Emergency?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ignoring the curbs on declaring a national emergency, David Nakamura, Nov. 1, 2018 (print edition). As a caravan of migrant families heads toward the United States, the president said that he was “bringing out the military for a National Emergency.” But he has filed no proclamation declaring a national crisis.

U.S. Elections

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Democrats in prime position to retake House, but wild cards remain, poll shows, Scott Clement and Dan Balz​, Nov. 1, 2018. A Washington Post-Schar School poll of likely voters in battleground districts found the Democratic Party’s base of less frequent voters and concerns about illegal immigration stand out as wild cards in the final days of the midterm elections.

Trump Claims Black George Leader, Yale Law Grad 'Unqualified'

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Offering No Evidence, Cites Stacey Abrams’s ‘Past’ and Calls Her ‘Unqualified,’ Alan Blinder, Nov. 1, 2018. President Trump disparaged Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, in ambiguous and unusually personal terms on Thursday, warning that “her past” left her “not qualified to be the governor.”

stacey abrams campaignMr. Trump did not elaborate and offered no evidence for his assertion, which seemed to be a potential preview of the political message he will deliver on Sunday, two days ahead of the election, at a Georgia rally for Brian Kemp, Ms. Abrams’s Republican rival.

But the decision of the president, who has been criticized for inflammatory language, to invoke Ms. Abrams’s background so broadly was a distinct escalation in his attacks on her bid to become the first black woman to be elected governor in the United States.

Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, has staked out an array of liberal positions during her campaign, but her tenure in the Legislature has drawn measured praise from the Republicans who led the State Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: When Trump Voters Go For Democrats, Timothy P. Carney (author of the forthcoming book “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse”), Nov. 1, 2018. Why is the Rust Belt trending blue for the midterms? The collapse of community may provide an answer.

democratic donkey logoIt’s easy to assume that Rust Belt voters have soured on the president, that blue-collar voters are upset Mr. Trump never Made America Great Again. But it’s not about the president: Mr. Trump still has extraordinarily high approval ratings among those who voted for him. The problem for the Republicans is that Mr. Trump made these Rust Belt voters into Trump voters, but he never made them Republicans.

Low social trust and low civic engagement defined the places that swung hardest to Mr. Trump. Because the vote was an expression of alienation and dissatisfaction, rather than an expression of partisan fealty, many of those places will swing back enough to give Democrats statewide wins on Election Day.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Tip Sheet: Warning Signs for G.O.P., Including Steve King; Trump’s Finger Pointing: 5 Days to Go, Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer, Nov. 1, 2018. We’re entering the homestretch, and our just-completed poll in the New Jersey district of Representative Leonard Lance carries ominous news for him — and for other Republicans in high-income districts....

jon tester oPresident Trump is getting ahead of a possible midterm loss with an unsubtle message to fellow Republicans: It wasn’t me....Senator Jon Tester of Montana has won two Senate elections without clearing 50 percent of the vote. One big reason: A Libertarian on the ballot has presumably hurt the Republican more than Mr. Tester, a Democrat. But on Wednesday, Mr. Tester, right, faced a complication: The Libertarian candidate this year, Rick Breckenridge, endorsed Matt Rosendale, the Republican nominee and state auditor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Vote against all Republicans. Every single one, Max Boot, Nov. 1, 2018. I’m sick and tired of a president who pretends that a caravan of impoverished refugees is an “invasion” by “unknown Middle Easterners” and “bad thugs” — and whose followers on Fox News pretend the refugees are bringing leprosy and smallpox to the United States. (Smallpox was eliminated about 40 years ago.)

I’m sick and tired of a president who misuses his office to demagogue on immigration — by unnecessarily sending 5,200 troops to the border and by threatening to rescind by executive order the 14th Amendment guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

I’m sick and tired of a president who is so self-absorbed that he thinks he is the real victim of mail-bomb attacks on his political opponents — and who, after visiting Pittsburgh despite being asked by local leaders to stay away, tweeted about how he was treated, not about the victims of the synagogue massacre.

Most of all, I’m sick and tired of Republicans who feel that Trump’s blatant bigotry gives them license to do the same — with Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) denouncing his opponent as an “Indo-American carpetbagger,” Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warning voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African American opponent, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) labeling his “Palestinian Mexican” opponent a “security risk” who is “working to infiltrate Congress,” and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) accusing his opponent, who is of Indian Tibetan heritage, of “selling out Americans” because he once worked at a law firm that settled terrorism-related cases against Libya.

If you’re sick and tired, too, here is what you can do.

Vote for Democrats on Tuesday. For every office. Regardless of who they are. And I say that as a former Republican. Some Republicans in suburban districts may claim they aren’t for Trump. Don’t believe them. Whatever their private qualms, no Republicans have consistently held Trump to account. They are too scared that doing so will hurt their chances of reelection. If you’re as sick and tired as I am of being sick and tired about what’s going on, vote against all Republicans. Every single one. That’s the only message they will understand., Analysis: Election Update: Democrats Need A Systematic Polling Error To Win The Senate, Nate Silver, Nov. 1, 2018. And even that might not be enough.

The divide between the House outlook and the Senate outlook continues to widen. Democrats’ chances of winning a majority remain at or near their all-time highs in our House forecast — ranging between 78 percent (7 in 9) and 85 percent (6 in 7) in the various versions of our model. But they’re at their lowest point yet in the Senate. All three versions of our forecast give them only about 1 in 7 shot (about 15 percent) of taking over the Senate from Republicans.

By a systematic polling error, I mean one that occurs in a correlated way across every race, or in certain groups or races — not merely errors that happen on a one-off basis.

jefferson morley new

Deep State, Former Spy Chiefs Warn of Trump’s Dangerous Radicalization: ‘We Have Four Years to Stop Him,’ Jefferson Morley, right, Nov. 1, 2018. Trump is similar to ISIS in that both use s

angela merkel vladimir putin recep tayyip erdogan emmanuel macron oct. 28 2018

Four Presidents: Angela Merkel of Germany, left to right, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Emmanuel Macron of France (Oct. 28 2018)

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Views of Angela Merkel’s Legacy: Stoic Leadership, and Economic Malpractice, Peter S. Goodman, Nov. 1, 2018. The exiting German chancellor is celebrated as a rare leader. But many economists blame her for inflamed populism.

In the political obituaries chronicling the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the world is preparing to lose a rare source of sober-minded leadership at a time rife with dangerous tumult.

For the European Union, the loss appears grave. The bloc is contending with a nasty divorce with Britain, rising authoritarianism from Hungary and Poland, and a showdown with a populist government in Italy. Ms. Merkel’s pending retirement will remove a stalwart champion for the union’s cohesion. So say countless pundits and editorials.

But many economists take a less generous view of the German chancellor’s place in modern European history. Far from a hero who anchored the bloc under profound challenges, she played a leading role in amplifying an economic crisis, allowing it to erupt into an existential threat to the European Union and its shared euro currency. The resulting distress has undermined faith in the European bloc while fueling anti-establishment grievances across the Continent.

Propaganda 'News', Opinion: We Went To Jacob Wohl’s Most Important Press Conference Ever And It Was Everything We’d Hoped It Would Be, Thornton McEnery, Nov. 1, 2018. When we left our quiet, comfortable home in the pre-dawn darkness to drive alone to Washington DC this morning, we did so with the solitary hope the eventual reward would warrant our sacrifice.

Oh, how it did.

Awaiting us hours down I-95 was the promise of a press conference being hosted by our old pal Jacob Wohl and some MAGA DC lawyer that he’d pulled into his latest venture: becoming a global private eye hellbent on destroying prosecutor Robert Mueller. According to Jacob’s pre-sale, he was going to present a victim of sexual assault who would claim that her abuser was none other than Mueller himself. Our boy Jacob was going to show her off to the assembled press at a Holiday Inn in Arlington, VA and end the long investigation into his adopted daddy, President Donald Trump.

We had spent the previous day watching Jacob’s whole plan unravel in the most JacobWohlian way possible. The investigation firm that he claimed had contacted him turned out to be yet another of his adorable shell companies with a web registration bearing his email and a phone number that rang back to his mom’s cell. He had also apparently forgotten to update the photo template on the website he fabricated, leaving up bio headshots of famous actors and models, stock photo faces, and of course, his own head. The whole thing was very cute and dumb and totally what we’ve come to expect from Jacob over the years.

What we didn’t expect though was just how utterly fucking shambolic the whole presser would be once we finally arrived at the Rosslyn Holiday Inn....

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: A Party Defined by Its Lies: At this point, good people can’t be good Republicans, Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 1, 2018. Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as an Op-Ed columnist. He is distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York. In addition, he is professor emeritus of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

President Trump epitomizes the problem of lying by Republicans, but he is far from the only one.

During my first year as an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, I wasn’t allowed to use the word “lie.”

That first year coincided with the 2000 election, and George W. Bush was, in fact, being systematically dishonest about his economic proposals — saying false things about who would benefit from his tax cut and the implications of Social Security privatization. But the notion that a major party’s presidential candidate would go beyond spin to outright lies still seemed outrageous, and saying it was considered beyond the pale.

Obviously that prohibition no longer holds on this opinion page, and major media organizations have become increasingly willing to point out raw falsehoods. But they’ve been chasing a moving target, because the lies just keep getting bigger and more pervasive. In fact, at this point the G.O.P.’s campaign message consists of nothing but lies; it’s hard to think of a single true thing Republicans are running on.

And yes, it’s a Republican problem (and it’s not just Donald Trump). Democrats aren’t saints, but they campaign mostly on real issues, and generally do, in fact, stand for more or less what they claim to stand for. Republicans don’t. And the total dishonesty of Republican electioneering should itself be a decisive political issue, because at this point it defines the party’s character.

What are Republicans lying about? As I said, almost everything. But there are two big themes. They lie about their agenda, pretending that their policies would help the middle and working classes when they would, in fact, do the opposite. And they lie about the problems America faces, hyping an imaginary threat from scary dark-skinned people and, increasingly, attributing that threat to Jewish conspirators.

Both classes of lie are rooted in the real G.O.P. agenda.

republican elephant logoWhat Republicans truly stand for, and have for decades, is cutting taxes on the rich and slashing social programs. Sure enough, last year they succeeded in ramming through a huge tax cut aimed mainly at corporations and the wealthy, and came within one vote of passing a health “reform” that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would have caused 32 million Americans to lose health coverage.

The G.O.P.’s problem is that this agenda is deeply unpopular. Large majorities of Americans oppose cuts in major social programs, while most voters want to raise, not reduce, taxes on corporations and high-income individuals.

But instead of changing their agenda to meet voters’ concerns, Republicans have resorted to a strategy of deception and distraction. On one side, they have gone full black-is-white, up-is-down on policy substance. Most spectacularly, they are posing as defenders of protection for people with pre-existing conditions — protection that their failed health bill would have stripped away, and which they are now trying to take away through the courts. And they’re claiming that Democrats are the ones threatening Medicare.

On the other side, they’re resorting to their old standby: race-based fear.

But selling racial fear was easier in the 1980s and early 1990s, when America really was suffering from high levels of inner-city crime. Since then, violent crime has plunged. What’s a fearmonger to do? The answer is: lie.