Monday, November 5, 2018

Election Eve Brick

After they spent yesterday building a wall:

"Obama, Trump offer dueling final pitches to midterm voters" by Ken Thomas and Brian Slodysko Associated Press  November 05, 2018

WASHINGTON — Former president Barack Obama delivered a closing argument for Democrats that seeks a firm check on President Trump’s policies in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Obama has taken on a more public role this fall after refraining from offering a full-blown counterpoint to Trump’s policies, which have sought to dismantle Obama’s legacy. Without invoking his name, Obama has accused Trump of lying and ‘‘fear-mongering’’ and warned Democrats not to be distracted.

In Gary, Obama praised Senator Joe Donnelly, who faces a stiff challenge from Republican businessman Mike Braun, for being willing to break with his party, telling a roaring crowd at a rally in the state that ‘‘you don’t want just a yes man.’’

Donnelly has sounded more like Trump while trying to persuade voters in the conservative Midwestern state to grant him a second term. He has angered some Democrats by tacking to the right in recent weeks and embracing some of Trump’s pet priorities, such as building a border wall with Mexico, but Obama told voters during the rally in Gary that Donnelly ‘‘tries to do right by people’’ — not just his party — and noted he supported the Affordable Care Act, the health care overhaul passed under Obama, but for Donnelly, who frequently touts how often he votes with Trump, the Obama rally was a little more complicated.

I don't see how he helps. He destroyed the Democrat Party.

‘‘If he does need to inoculate himself from some of his firmer conservative rhetoric, it’s a pretty effective way to do it,’’ said Christina Hale, a former state lawmaker and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2016.

Obama has proved a polarizing figure with independent and Republican voters and is credited with some of Indiana’s rightward political shift, even though he won the state in 2008. To win in Tuesday’s election, Donnelly not only needs high turnout from his party’s base but also must peel off some moderate Republicans and independents.

That’s why Sunday’s rally in Gary, a heavily African-American city that has more in common with the Democratic stronghold of nearby Chicago than deep-red parts of the state, could prove strategic. The northwest Indiana region supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, and driving turnout there on Tuesday will be critical for Donnelly.

Proving that it is the Democrats who need division and identity politics to survive!

Obama criticized Republicans for passing a tax bill that benefited the wealthy, and for trying to end protections for pre-existing conditions provided through the Affordable Care Act. And without mentioning Trump’s name, he told the crowd they could return the country to a kinder, less divisive kind of politics.

‘‘On Tuesday you can vote for politics that is decent and honest and lawful and tries to do right by people like Joe Donnelly does,’’ he said, adding at one point that his voice was growing hoarse from all his campaigning in recent days.

Says the president who had reporters spied upon and jailed, illegally surveilled allies and political enemies, and carried out extrajudicial drone assassinations by signing off on a kill list.

Not a whole lot decent, honest, or lawful about that.

Trump has punched back, keenly aware of Obama’s visit, which he mentioned Friday during an event at an Indianapolis-area high school.

‘‘It’s no surprise that Joe Donnelly is holding a rally this weekend with Barack H. Obama,’’ Trump said as the crowd jeered. He later added: ‘‘We don’t want to go back to the Obama days.’’

No, we don't.

As a red-state Democrat, Donnelly has had a target on his back ever since he unexpectedly defeated Republican Richard Mourdock in 2012, when the former state treasurer said a woman who gets pregnant from her rapist is carrying a ‘‘gift from God.’’

Donnelly has walked a delicate line since then, often frustrating his own party and Republicans alike with the votes he takes.

Trump was having none of it on Friday, tying Donnelly to ‘‘radical left’’ figures in the party who are widely reviled by the GOP base.

‘‘This Tuesday I need the people of Indiana to send a message to Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, and the radical Democrats by voting for Mike Braun,’’ Trump said as the crowd erupted in boos. ‘‘I’m really speaking more to the television cameras than to you because I don’t think we have too many Donnelly voters. Anybody going to vote for Donnelly in this room?’’

The boos grew even louder.....


Looks like Indiana is going to flip to Republican in the Senate, and that is when the Democrats will start throwing stones:

"Hackers targeting election networks across country prior to midterms" by Jana Winter Spotlight Fellow  November 05, 2018

Hackers have ramped up their efforts to meddle with the country’s election infrastructure in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s midterms, sparking a raft of investigations into election interference, internal intelligence documents show.

The hackers have targeted voter registration databases, election officials, and networks across the country, from counties in the Southwest to a city government in the Midwest, according to Department of Homeland Security election threat reports reviewed by the Globe. The agency says publicly all the recent attempts have been prevented or mitigated, but internal documents show hackers have had “limited success.”

The recent incidents have not been publicly disclosed until now.

Federal agencies have logged more than 160 reports of suspected meddling in US elections since Aug. 1, documents show. The pace of suspicious activity has picked up in recent weeks — up to 10 incidents each day — and officials are on high alert.

“It’s like a burglar walking up to your house in middle of night, jiggling the door to see if it’s unlocked,” said Jim Condos, president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and Vermont’s top election official. “That’s what it looks like — they’re trying to figure out your weakness.”

Russian hackers carried out a sophisticated campaign against the US voting system in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, according to US intelligence assessments and recent indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The hackers targeted voter registration databases in 21 states and stole the personal information of 500,000 US voters. The Senate committee investigating 2016 Russian election interference sharply criticized DHS for not identifying and sharing information on the threats.

Since then, DHS has begun offering classified briefings to state officials and sharing threat assessments with more partners.

“We’re much better prepared for attacks against our election infrastructure than we were in 2016,” said Lawrence Norden, an election security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “The fact that we’re monitoring this activity is in itself a good sign.”

DHS spokesman Scott McConnell attributed the recent increase in reported incidents to more vigilance and better communication between state offices and his agency.

“This sharing is helping us build a national-level understanding of the cybersecurity threats facing our nation’s election infrastructure,” McConnell said.

McConnell noted that some complaints turn out to be groundless. He said there is no baseline to assess the rate of hacking attempts because similar election threat numbers were not compiled in previous years.....

Russia, Russia, Russia. 



Brian Kemp’s office orders ‘hacking’ probe of Georgia Democrats

Also see:

"How do you contend with the star power of a billionaire Queen of All Media who is also one of the world’s most influential people? For one robo-call producer speaking into a microphone in what we can only assume is a dark basement, the answer is clear: an 11th-hour infusion of good old-fashioned racism. ‘‘This is the magical Negro Oprah Winfrey asking you to make my fellow Negress Stacey Abrams the governor of Georgia,’’ the robo-call begins, before spewing nearly 60 seconds of racism coupled with a dash of anti-Semitism. Georgians began hearing the call last week, according to the website The Hill. The robo-call apparently was made by, an anti-Semitic video podcasting website that the Anti-Defamation League says ‘‘has zeroed in on divisive political campaigns across the country,’’ including both races that feature a black candidate for governor. It’s unclear how many Oprah Winfrey robo-calls have been received. The robo-call labels Abrams ‘‘a poor man’s Aunt Jemima,’’ a reference to the black woman on the front of the pancake mix box, an image that has itself been derided as a racist symbol. It suggests that Winfrey is a media construction made to trick fat, white women into voting. And it mocks what Winfrey has called one of her all-time happiest moments in media. ‘‘And so I promise that every single person who votes for Stacey Abrams, you’re going to get a new car! So you get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car! Everybody gets a car!’’ In a statement, the Abrams campaign called the robo-calls a desperate and ‘‘vile’’ attempt to sway voters using ‘‘poisonous thinking.’’

It will be the last time you get to vote:

"Georgia on Sunday voted for a new president of the former Soviet republic, the last time the president will be elected by direct ballot. Polls suggested none of the 25 candidates would get the majority needed for a first-round win. If no one wins 50 percent, a runoff between the top two will be held by Dec. 1. No results had been announced as of early Monday and it wasn’t clear when a final tally would be made. The elections commission said turnout was about 47 percent. After the new president’s six-year term ends, presidents will be chosen by a delegate system, part of constitutional changes that make the prime minister the most powerful political figure in Georgia. The president functions as head of state and commander in chief, but is otherwise largely ceremonial."

All the candidates are former foreign ministers, including female Salome Zurabishvili, who has been criticized for saying Georgia started the 2008 war with Russia.

Time to head over to the House:

"Poll finds Democrats leading in House as GOP finds footing" by Dan Balz and Scott Clement Washington Post  November 05, 2018

Heading into Tuesday’s critical midterm elections, Democrats retain their advantage in the battle for the House, but Republicans could be buoyed by increasingly positive assessments of the economy and by President Trump’s harsh focus on the issues of immigration and border security, according to a Washington Post-ABC News national poll.

The poll finds that registered voters prefer Democratic candidates for the House over Republican candidates by 50 percent to 43 percent. That marks a slight decline from last month, when Democrats led on the generic congressional ballot by 11 points, and a bigger drop from August, when they enjoyed a 14-point advantage.

Democrats also have a 51 percent to 44 percent advantage among likely voters identified by the Post. That seven-point margin, which is in line with other polls taken in the past two weeks, puts Democrats roughly within range of what they probably will need in the overall national vote for the House to capture a majority from the Republicans, based on calculations from previous midterm campaigns.

However, there is no way to translate the national numbers into the district-by-district competition that will ultimately decide who controls the House in January. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to capture control of the House. Public and private polls of individual races conducted by candidates, political party committees, the media, and others show many contests still within the margin of error.

Republican candidates in competitive House districts, almost a third of which backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, threaten to be dragged down by the president’s unpopularity. Presidents with approval ratings as low as Trump’s have generally suffered significant losses in midterm elections, but this president has shown over time that historical statistical benchmarks don’t always apply to him.

Trump’s approval rating among all adults stands at 40 percent, holding steady from a poll in early October and slightly higher than his 36 percent rating in August. Those who disapprove account for 53 percent. Among registered voters, Trump’s approval is 44 percent, with disapproval at 52 percent, the best margin among this group during his presidency.

All midterm elections are a referendum on the incumbent president, and Trump has made this election about himself more than most presidents have, insisting in his campaign rallies that voters should approach the election as if he is on the ballot, but elections also tend to reflect views of the economy, and Tuesday’s provides a test of the tension between perceptions of the president and perceptions of the economy. Rarely has there been as great a distance between views about the economy and a president’s ratings as there is this year.

On Friday, the Labor Department’s monthly employment report produced a string of positive numbers. The Post-ABC News poll was conducted last Monday through Thursday, the day before the employment statistics were announced, and records the most optimistic attitudes about the economy in nearly two decades, with 65 percent of all Americans rating the state of the economy as good or excellent and 34 percent offering a negative assessment. The last time optimism ranked so high was in January 2001.

You read something like that and you wonder how the Republicans can't keep control.

Among registered voters, 71 percent say the economy is good or excellent, up from 60 percent in August. Those who give the economy positive ratings favor Republican candidates for the House by 54 to 40 percent, wider than the 49 to 42 percent margin in August.

It is undoubtedly the most critical issue in every election.

Similarly, more than 8 in 10 adults say they are either doing about as well financially as they were before Trump became president (60 percent), or are doing better (25 percent). Just 13 percent say they are not as well off. That 13 percent figure is also among the lowest in 18 years; the last time it dropped that low was in the final year of President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Add to that the fact that take home pay has gone up and gas prices are dropping precipitously, and you wonder how Republicans could possibly lose.

Republican candidates have tried to emphasize the economy in their campaigns, but they have sometimes been overwhelmed by presidential rhetoric and by sharp attacks by Democrats on the issue of health care, which have put them on the defensive.

That's a loser for them now, too.

The president has used the final weeks of the midterm campaign to hammer on immigration more than any other issue. He has warned of threats to the country from a caravan of Central Americans who are in southern Mexico and heading north. He has ordered federal troops to be deployed to the border in response. 

Another Democratic backfire?

Those who rank immigration as one of the most important issues in the election favor Republicans over Democrats by 12 points when choosing a generic congressional candidate, though the gap among this group is tenuous given its large error margin. For those who say border security is one of their top issues, Republicans lead Democrats by 42 points on the House vote.....



"Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who is considering a 2020 presidential campaign, took another step closer to that possibility Sunday with a $5 million national advertising effort that encourages voters to support Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections — and offers Bloomberg’s centrist politics as a counter to President Trump. Bloomberg’s 2-minute television ad, which features him speaking directly to the camera and standing before an American flag, was scheduled to first air Sunday during CBS’ ‘‘60 Minutes.’’ It will air again Monday during the evening news programs on broadcast networks and on MSNBC and CNN. Bloomberg’s political advisers said he firmly believes there is enormous space in the political center and wants Democrats to court voters there."

So which is your favorite oligarch?

I'm sensing a real shitting-their-pants panic from my pre$$:

"Far-right Internet groups listen for Trump’s approval, and often hear it" by Kevin Roose and Ali Winston New York Times  November 05, 2018

On Wednesday, minutes after President Trump posted an incendiary campaign ad falsely accusing Democrats of flooding the country with murderous illegal immigrants, virulent racists on an online message board erupted in celebration.

These posts, which appeared on the politics forum of 4chan, an online message board known for hosting extreme speech and graphic imagery, were not a one-off. In recent weeks, as Trump and his allies have waged a fear-based campaign to drive Republican voters to the polls for the midterm elections Tuesday, far-right Internet communities have been buoyed as their once-fringe views have been given oxygen by prominent Republicans.

The NYT must really be worried that people are on to them to be throwing this out there on election eve. They have completely lost control of not only the narrative, but the public mind.

These activists cheered when Trump suggested that Jewish billionaire George Soros could be secretly funding a caravan of Latin American migrants — a dog-whistle reference to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that has been advanced by neo-Nazis and white nationalists for years. They roared their approval when Trump began stirring up fears of angry, violent left-wing mobs, another far-right boogeyman, and they have found traces of their ideas in Trump’s rhetoric.

The pre$$, and Globe in particular, supported the antifa thugs and blow their own dog whistles.

Since the 2016 election, these far-right communities have entered into a sort of imagined dialogue with the president. They create and disseminate slogans and graphics, and celebrate when they show up in Trump’s Twitter feed days or weeks later. They carefully dissect his statements, looking for hints of their influence. And when they find those clues, they take them as evidence that Trump is “/ourguy/,” a label for people internet extremists believe share their views, but who are unable to say so directly in public.

“There’s this feedback loop between Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and right-wing extremist movements,” said Sophie Bjork-James, an assistant professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University who has studied far-right extremism. “They’re not all supportive of Trump, but his language does give them ideas that then circulate online in extremist social media spaces.”

The White House press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Right-wing extremists — a catchall category for a messy constellation of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, crypto-fascists, nihilists, and attention-seeking trolls — vary widely in style and ideology. Some congregate out in the open, on forums like 4chan and Reddit as well as public platforms like Gab, the Twitter-like social network used by the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Others communicate in private channels on Discord, a chat platform, or over encrypted messaging apps like Telegram or Wire. Some are ardent supporters of Trump, while others oppose him on the grounds that he is not extreme enough.

What they have in common is a feeling of empowerment — a sense that the boundaries of acceptable speech are widening in the Trump era, and a suspicion that when they talk, Trump, or those with access to him, may be listening.

That was where my printed paper stopped hearing it.

Even small phrases can set off speculation. Last month, when Trump tweeted an unfounded accusation that left-wing protesters outside the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh were “paid for by Soros and others,” some extremists took it as evidence that the president shared their view of a global Jewish-led conspiracy led by Soros, a leading donor to many liberal causes.

“Trump has officially named the Jew,” wrote one user on 4chan. “Trump knows,” wrote another, who said that the “others” Trump referred to in his tweet might be a sly reference to other shadowy Jewish benefactors.

Not Bloomberg then.

These extremists’ sense of influence is almost certainly exaggerated

Same as the pre$$.

Trump, who has Jewish family members including his daughter, has said nothing about Soros’s religion or a larger Jewish conspiracy, and it is unlikely that the president, who has said that he does not use a computer, is wading through obscure message boards in search of talking points, but that hasn’t stopped those extremists from interpreting his words as a signal that the president shares their views. 

No, he's watching Fox.

It is difficult to quantify how many right-wing extremists exist in America — many operate anonymously or pseudonymously online, and few real-world gatherings take place, but some private channels for neo-Nazis and other extremist groups have thousands of members, and more mainstream right-wing spaces — such as a pro-Trump Reddit forum, r/the_donald, which has more than 600,000 members — have amplified extremist messages.

Last month, users on r/the_donald promoted a slogan — “jobs, not mobs.” They said the phrase, which has historical roots in right-wing fears of violence by anti-fascist protest groups, would make a good closing argument for Republicans in this year’s midterm elections.

“Jobs not mobs” appears to have taken off with help from Scott Adams, the “Dilbert” cartoonist and a self-styled communications guru who is popular with the pro-Trump Internet crowd. Adams said on Twitter that the phrase was likely to be persuasive to voters because it rhymed, and that it was “brain glue plus framing and contrast.”

The New York Times is now attacking Dilbert? 

Good Lord, they have lost their minds down there!

The slogan was then turned into an image meme — a split-screen photo showing busy factory workers in contrast with angry protesters — and posted to the r/the_donald forum, where it drew rave reviews from thousands of members. From there, it spread to prominent conservative commentators on Twitter and Fox News, who used it to stir fears of left-wing mob violence. And on Oct. 18, six days after #jobsnotmobs appeared on a right-wing Reddit forum, Trump tweeted it.

I didn't get that tweet.

Since then, the phrase has become a Republican mantra. It has featured prominently in campaign ads, has been grafted onto T-shirts and legions of internet images, and has been chanted by crowds at rallies for Republican candidates.

Trump may not be consciously egging on these efforts, but experts in online extremism say that his reluctance to rein in the radical elements of his base — perhaps best expressed by his kid-gloves treatment of white nationalists after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year — have created an opening for more extreme ideas to spread.

Joan Donovan, a researcher at the think tank Data & Society who studies right-wing extremism online, said the far right corners of the Internet often serve as an ad hoc testing ground for political messages that move fringe ideas into the mainstream.

“They incubate online, in YouTube videos, articles, through influencers, and they slowly become divorced from their politicized roots,” Donovan said.

Donovan cited the example of Lauren Southern, a far-right YouTube personality who led a successful campaign to gain mainstream traction with an exaggerated story about land being seized from white farmers in South Africa. The story, a long-running narrative among white nationalists, has been used to further racist fears of an impending “white genocide” at the hands of black South Africans.

Southern campaigned to place the story in right-wing media in the United States, making personal appeals to top conservative media figures. Eventually, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News commentator, covered the story in a segment, and Trump tweeted about the issue, mentioning Carlson and Fox News in the tweet.

The president’s surfacing of the white farmer issue did not escape the notice of the far right. On an episode this year of White Rabbit Radio, a podcast that promotes extremist views, an anonymous commentator said that Trump’s remarks had legitimized a decades-old, obscure issue for white nationalists.

I don't know how many times my supremacist Jew pre$$ is going to say white nationalists, but it is so untoward considering the pre$$ is in the pocket of Zionist nationalists who are picking people off from behind dirt berms as they protest their concentration camp existence.

“This was the province of Stormfront five, 10 years ago,” the commenter said, referring to a neo-Nazi internet forum. “Now, it is mainstream.”

Who didn't see that coming, huh?

The ability of online extremists to push, tailor, and amplify political messages has turned them into a potent force in the age of Internet politics, as candidates and elected officials look to what is popular online to shape their own messages.

“I don’t think Trump is setting the agenda here,” Donovan said. “He’s riding a wave of attention that is primarily being played out and happening online. He wouldn’t have the ability to launch these policies if there wasn’t a quorum of people online getting ready to back him up and push these ideas across multiple platforms.”

Even when Trump denounces extremism, many of his supporters online see it as a begrudging concession, rather than an expression of his true beliefs. Last weekend, as Trump spoke about the dangers of anti-Semitism in the wake of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Internet bigots reassured one another that Trump was still on their side.

I'm with him on a few issues, but overall I recognize that he is just another in a long line of Zionist puppets, and probably the first time they have gotten one of their own -- a casino crime bo$$ -- as president.

“He needs to spin this for the midterms,” one poster on 4chan wrote.

“He really is playing 5D chess,” wrote another.

Not every online activist has the goal of shaping Trump’s thinking on hot-button issues, of course. For some, just being noticed is the prize.

After Trump tweeted the “jobs, not mobs” meme, the creator of the image — a Reddit user who goes by the online pen name “Bryan Machiavelli” and who declined to be interviewed unless The New York Times paid him $200 an hour for his “memetic warfare consulting” services — wrote on Reddit that attention from the president was its own reward.

“I am so excited that I achieved a goal I set 2 years ago,” he wrote, “to have the president retweet a meme I made.”


Globe says you should put your money on the Democrats:

"The safe bet for this midterm is on the Democrats" by Niall Ferguson   November 05, 2018

Unlike presidential elections, it is usually quite easy to predict who will win the midterms.

Despite the role of local issues and candidates, they are in large measure referendums on the president’s job performance and, as such, perfect opportunities for Americans to display their characteristic fickleness. Having elected someone president, Americans are collectively ready to punch him on the nose after just 24 months. The president’s party has lost seats in every midterm election since 1946, with just two exceptions: 1998 and 2002.

In the nine elections when the president’s approval rating was below 50 percent, his party lost an average of 37 seats. Even in the nine midterm elections when the president’s approval rating was above 50 percent, his party still lost an average of 14 seats. The only two presidents who saw their party gains seats — Bill Clinton in 1998 and George W. Bush in 2002 — were exceptionally popular at the time.

So you think President Trump is exceptionally unpopular? Stop watching CNN. Actually, his current 43 percent approval rating lands him squarely in the middle of the league. He’s less popular than Lyndon Johnson in 1966, Jimmy Carter in 1978, Clinton in 1994, and Barack Obama in 2010 and 2014, but Trump is more popular than Harry Truman in 1946 and 1950, Reagan in 1982 — amazing, isn’t it? — and Bush in 2006.

On Tuesday, Democrats need to win 23 seats to retake the House. Looking solely at Trump’s approval rating, you would expect them to win up to 41, but allowance needs to be made for the Republicans’ recent gerrymandering of district boundaries, which should help them hang on to around five seats that would otherwise flip.

So he is saying a 36-seat pickup for the Democrats using history as a guide?

Only problem is, Trump has defied history at every turn.

Another way to read the tea-leaves is to look at the popularity of the two parties themselves, as revealed in the generic ballot. Since 1950, a victorious party has never trailed by more than 4.5 percent in the week of a midterm election. Republicans are currently behind by 8.5 percent.

Democrats also lead in terms of fund-raising, by roughly $1 billion to $700 million. The average Republican challenger in 2010 had double the campaign donations of the average Democratic challenger. This year, according to the Campaign Finance Institute, the average Democrat has seven times more money than the average Republican.


No wonder Pelosi has been crowing that they will win back the Hou$e.

To their dismay, Republican candidates have found that last year’s tax cuts are a vote-loser. Their hasty shift from economic issues to cultural issues — from immigration to identity politics, from “Yet more tax cuts!” to “The caravan is coming!” — has not sufficed to stem the blue tide.

Are you sure about that?

I've noted the outlook on the economy above, and the cultural issues -- immigration, Kavanaugh -- have seemed to backfire on the Democrats.

So why is the Senate not going the same way as the House? The answer is that the Democrats are having to defend 26 of their seats — 10 in states won by Trump in 2016 — while the Republicans have only nine seats in play, making it the most skewed contest since 1938. True, incumbent senators from the opposition party tend to win reelection, but in North Dakota and Missouri, Democratic incumbents Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill are trailing Republican challengers. Bill Nelson is also up against it in Florida. So is Joe Donnelly in Indiana. To win control, the Democrats must hang on to all their existing seats and win two more. Watch Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee; maybe also Texas, where Ted Cruz is battling the charismatic Beto O’Rourke, but don’t be surprised to see Mitch McConnell still in charge when all is said and done.

Okay, I just finished watching Bret Baier and now I'm the one pooping my pants.

I think Heitkamp is a sure loser; however, Hawley was only ahead by a fraction of a percent, Donnelly was leading by a couple points, and Nelson allegedly has a three point edge. They had the Democrat ahead in Arizona and Nevada, too. If McCaskill hangs on, that would leave the Senate at 50-50, and remember, those numbers are coming from Fox. They would be the ones searching out the most favorable polls for Republicans.

What is amazing to me is one year ago I would have predicted a pickup of 13 seats for Republicans in the Senate and the arrival of a filibuster-proof majority. A few months ago I would have said the Republicans should at least pick up half of the 10 seats where Trump won and Democrats were defending. That would have raised the majority to 56. Now I'm wondering if they will even be able to retain the majority, never mind adding any seats. 

If Senate Democrats thought their attempt to derail the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice would pay political dividends in November, they could not have been more wrong. The hearings at which Kavanaugh was confronted by his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, backfired spectacularly as men — and many women — all over the American heartland sided with Kavanaugh.

I don't want to reopen that, but he is right. 

It was the way they handled it that blew it.

So what can we expect if the Democrats do win the House? Of course, there may be no stopping the polarization. With no meaningful changes to the way Facebook, Google, and Twitter operate, American voters are just as exposed as they were two years ago to a barrage of fake news, extreme views, and targeted ads. The difference is that the Democrats have learned their lesson and are now unabashedly waging the info war — big data, bots, and all. If elected, “woke” progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fully intend to bring the #Resistance and #MeToo to Washington. Trump’s impeachment will be top of their agenda.

Why the pre$$ thinks we are all empty vessels so easily manipulated is beyond me.

Yet there is another scenario. Unless they do much better than expected, the left will not be able to prevent the veteran Californian Democrat Nancy Pelosi being reelected as speaker of the House. She loathes Trump, no doubt. On the other hand, the more Trump talks about imposing tariffs on China or passing an infrastructure bill, the more like an old Democrat he sounds. Moreover, Pelosi has been around long enough to remember what impeachment did for Bill Clinton: his approval rating — already quite high at the time of the November 1998 midterms, as we have seen — rose to 73 percent the week he was impeached.

Midterms may be more predictable than most things in politics. Predicting what comes after Tuesday’s votes are counted is a whole lot harder.

I'm prepared to accept the results no matter what.

Let's hope those on the other side can do the same.



"Democrats shouldn’t get too excited. Polls miss. Predictors are wrong. Twenty-six percent of left-leaning young voters said they were voting four years ago; only 16 percent actually did, the Harvard poll notes. Even if everyone under 30 does show, that still leaves the majority of young Americans at home, not even bothering, but it’s possible, just possible, that the nose-in their-phone set will rise up and settle some big scores Tuesday. The long-maligned millennials get a lot of compliments, too. A common one: that the children shaken by 9/11, the worst recession in a century, and mass gun violence have grown into a generation determined to make their battered world a better place. Now’s their chance....."

Let's just hope the vote is transparent and free of fraud, no matter who wins.

Also see:

"The official results indicate that Law and Justice, which won the national elections in 2015, remains the most popular party in the country despite conflicts with the European Union and accusations of eroding the democratic system of checks and balances. Its approval has been boosted by generous welfare spending, its emphasis on traditional values, and a booming economy. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hailed the results, saying they represent the strongest showing the party has made yet in the history of local elections. ‘‘The trust of millions of Poles confirms that we are heading in the right direction,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a solid foundation on which to build a better homeland.’’ However, the pro-EU opposition coalition, a bloc led by Civic Platform, which ruled for eight years until 2015, won much greater support in the cities....."

It's the rural-urban divide that the elite pre$$ never talks about here!


Be careful going to the polls:

Three Girl Scouts picking up litter killed in ‘tragic and senseless’ hit-and-run

Could cause delays in Wisconsin.

Man says he wrestled with gunman during yoga studio shooting


Air Force mascot, a falcon, is injured by West Point cadets during prank

Tornado hit Baltimore Amazon center


Storms, floods in Sicily kill at least 12 people; 2 missing

Not good swimming weather.

"The World Open Water Swimming Association said Edgley endured spells of wild weather and was stung by jellyfish 37 times during his swim, which was sponsored by the energy drink Red Bull....."

Doesn't that stuff give you wings?

Ryanair under fire for ignoring passenger’s racist rant

A white man berated and bullied an elderly black passenger, and the incident felt staged to the crew

Nevertheless, the government is going to investigate.

US tourist helps stop thief who tried to steal Magna Carta

UK says reports of imminent Brexit deal are ‘speculation’

The queen farted on it, but in a very queen-like way.

"A majority of voters in the South Pacific territory of New Caledonia chose to remain part of France instead of backing independence Sunday, a watershed moment that led French President Emmanuel Macron to promise a full dialogue on the archipelago’s future....."

The French media is complaining that they were not allowed access.

Utah mayor is killed in Afghan attack

Was his fourth deployment, and what a waste. 

When the f*** are we going to get the hell out of there anyway? 


"Fighting has escalated around Yemen’s key port city of Hodeida, with more than 150 combatants killed over the weekend from both the rebel and government-backed sides, officials said Sunday. Airstrikes and naval artillery pounded rebel positions around the Red Sea coastal city, where government backed-troops are launching a major ground assault to try to wrest it from dug-in rebels. The rebels, known as Houthis, said they repelled the latest offensive on Hodeida, killing or wounding 215 troops, but did not provide a breakdown....."

Yeah, now that Khashoggi is out of the news and the crisis has passed, the Saudi butchery can continue!

Egypt says it killed 19 militants after deadly attack on Christians

Maybe they should build a wall to keep them out.


Much closer to home:

"For Christine Hallquist, a fight on many levels in Vermont" by Kevin Cullen Globe Staff  November 05, 2018

He isn't making this up, is he?

Is this part of his punishment?

BENNINGTON, Vt. — Christine Hallquist, a Democrat, has received death threats, so her campaign doesn’t put her daily schedule out in advance, which doesn’t help a fledgling politician who remains largely unknown to so many voters.

Hallquist is surely fighting prejudice and ignorance in some quarters as she barnstorms across the Green Mountain State, but she’s also fighting low name-recognition, political inexperience, and the sheer power of incumbency as she tries to knock off first-term Republican Governor Phil Scott.

Her campaign got some bad news last month when a Vermont Public Radio/Vermont PBS poll showed that only 28 percent of likely voters say they’ll back her. Scott came in at 42 percent. More worrisome for Hallquist is that Scott was drawing 26 percent of Democrats. Virtually no Republicans said they’ll vote for Hallquist.

Hallquist’s staff say their internal polling shows a much tighter race, and the VPR/VPBS poll suggested it’s not just Hallquist who faces an uphill battle: All of Vermont’s incumbent statewide officeholders had comfortable leads as their campaigns headed into the final week.

If Hallquist, 62, is worried about the polls, she isn’t showing it. Her campaign has attracted a lot of national and international attention. When out-of-state journalists ask her what it’s like to be standing on the cusp of history, Hallquist can’t resist tweaking them, saying she realizes no one’s knocked off an incumbent governor in Vermont since 1962.

Hallquist is wary of labels, seeing herself not as a transgender gubernatorial nominee as much as a gubernatorial nominee who happens to be transgender, and while she holds progressive views on health care, climate change, and income inequality, she’d rather be known as a pragmatist. She is more policy wonk than standard-bearer, but she proudly wears her heart on her sleeve.

“Medicare for all, ending homelessness, that’s not being progressive,” she said. “That’s called being a civilized society.”

So where does she stand on the wars?

Scott, for his part, has not made Hallquist’s gender an issue and has condemned those who have made threats against her. Scott’s supporters like to point out that Hallquist voted for him two years ago.

Hallquist shrugged that off. “Everybody makes mistakes,” she cracked.

A native of upstate New York, Hallquist was initially known as David and moved to Vermont at 20 when her father relocated to Burlington for work. Trained as an electrical engineer, she served as CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative for a decade, known for her innovative approaches to energy policy. She publicly transitioned in gender in 2015, and within a year had something of a political epiphany as powerful as the personal epiphany that led her to live openly as a woman.

“November 9th, 2016,” she said, referring to the day after Donald Trump was elected president. “I woke up out of my comfortable coma. I marched. But I realized that’s not enough. That’s why I’m running.”

11/9 was another 9/11 for so many, a traumatic event from which they are still suffering and will likely never recover.

The Trump administration’s recent initiative to define someone’s gender as determined at birth and solely by anatomy shocked but did not surprise Hallquist.

“He’s coming after my folks now,” she said. “If I do nothing else, I will make Donald Trump uncomfortable.”

He'll, sorry, she'll do that to all of us.

Trump remains wildly unpopular in Vermont, and Hallquist has tried to link Scott to the president. Scott scoffs at that, saying he has not been afraid to criticize Trump’s more outlandish rhetoric and actions. Polling, meanwhile, suggests that Scott has lost support not with Democrats so much as Republicans, largely over his support for gun control.

Hallquist says her gender rarely comes up on the campaign trail. She says voters are interested in issues like health care and the cost of housing, not with the one that has garnered so much attention outside of Vermont.

Barnstorming the state briefly took a back seat to brainstorming at Two Brews with the assembled activists. Her longtime friend and driver, Brenda Churchill, is transgender, easygoing, and a good conversationalist, which comes in handy, given how much time they spend in the orange Jeep.

I hope she wasn't imbibing.

Hallquist prides herself on being good on policy, but has had to push herself to engage with the people and communities she would need to represent as governor.

She’s a quick learner.

Hallquist was standing on a traffic island recently outside a shopping plaza in Springfield with a group of Democrat candidates, taking part in a Vermont campaign staple: the honk and wave.

About an hour into the exercise, the assembled group looked to their left, up the hill that is Route 106, otherwise known as River Street. A man on a bicycle was racing down the hill at breakneck speed and narrowly missed getting hit by a car as he braked hard and jumped off his bike at the traffic island.

The man, the sort Vermonters charitably describe as a character, launched into a diatribe about drivers refusing to share the road with bicyclists, before announcing that fossil fuels “have killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden.”

Without another word, the man climbed back on his bike and pedaled away.

Christine Hallquist watched the man’s image fade in the late afternoon light, shrugged, and deadpanned, “Well, I wouldn’t have put it that way, but he wasn’t wrong on the issues.”


So that is going to be the new face of Vermont's Democratic Party, huh?

That's part of the Democrats problem right now, with all due respect. 

So many of there candidates are, with all apologies due, freaks to the average American in the flyover states.

Is Massachusetts ‘an island’?

I know I feel like I'm on one. 

Where is my antiwar candidate anyway?

No big policy differences in the race for governor on the final drive to Election Day.

Mayor Walsh errs in hiring Carlos Henriquez for city job

Just giving the guy a second chance.