By Doug Porter
The emotional and political roller coaster otherwise known as the 2016 elections is coming to an end. This may be hard to believe but, like the amusement park ride, we’re ending up just about where we started.
The American people knew where they stood on the final two major party candidates in January and statistically speaking that view hasn’t changed one iota ten months later.
MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow pointed this out: 40% of the electorate had a positive view about Hillary Clinton in January, and the name percentage holds true as of October. Donald Trump’s numbers are 29%(January) and 29%(October).
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) November 7, 2016
While we’re ending up where we started, I’d say it is also true the experiences we’ve had during this campaign season have changed the country. And I’m not sure it’s for the better.
What you won’t find in today’s column is any reporting on turnout or polls. I’m extremely skeptical of the many boasts and posts making the rounds on the internet and in mass media reporting, and you should be, too. The only thing that really counts at this point is your vote.
Here are some of the other important stories from over the weekend…
Comey to Congress: Never Mind
The FBI’s October surprise, amplified by a since retracted Fox News claim of impending indictments and some heavy fear mongering by former New York Mayor Rudy 9/11 Guliani has turned out to be ‘nothing to see here.’
An estimated twenty million Americans voted while the story still had legs, and more than one pundit says the faux controversy may have cost Democrats the Senate.
From the Washington Post:
FBI Director James B. Comey said Sunday that the bureau had completed its examination of newly discovered emails connected to Clinton — an inquiry that had roiled the presidential race for nine days — and found nothing to alter its months-old decision not to seek charges against the former secretary of state for her use of a private email server.
In a letter to congressional committee chairmen, Comey said investigators had worked “around the clock” to review the emails. The investigators found that the emails were either duplicates of correspondence they had reviewed earlier or were personal emails that did not pertain to State Department business, government officials said.
Also suffering permanent damage (should be): the reputation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you want to see a silver lining in this non-scandal, it’s that the white boys club reality of the bureau has finally seen the light.
Up Close and Personal: The Celia Vargas Story
The New York Times ran two insightful campaign stories over the weekend.
One focused on the life of Celia Vargas, a “guest room attendant” in a certain Las Vegas hotel. The story never mentions the candidate by name, and is all the more powerful for it.
Ms. Vargas, who is from El Salvador, and her Latina union colleagues are a growing force in the politics and culture of Nevada, vocal in their beliefs and expectations. Their 57,000-member Culinary Union, a powerful supporter of Nevada Democrats, is now 56 percent Latino — a jump from 35 percent just 20 years ago…
…She pulls into the employee parking lot of the gold hotel, set aglow now by the unsparing morning sun. Searching for a parking spot, she passes other women, many of them also in black and gray tunics, hurrying toward the service entrance.
Soon she is heading for the same door, one more guest room attendant who wears a back brace while cleaning rooms for a presidential candidate whose name is on the bathrobes she stocks, on the empty wine bottles she collects, on her name tag.
He will receive her labor, but not her vote.
Up Close and Personal: The Donald, Alone & Without a Phone
The other Times story is about the Trump campaign’s closing days. It’s jam-packed with anecdotes about a campaign trying to make it to the finish line.
In the final days of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a jarring split screen: the choreographed show of calm and confidence orchestrated by his staff, and the neediness and vulnerability of a once-boastful candidate now uncertain of victory.
On the surface, there is the semblance of stability that is robbing Hillary Clinton of her most potent weapon: Mr. Trump’s self-sabotaging eruptions, which have repeatedly undermined his candidacy. Underneath that veneer, turbulence still reigns, making it difficult for him to overcome all of the obstacles blocking his path to the White House.
The contrasts pervade his campaign. Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully — and often counterproductively — savage his rivals. But offline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund a “super PAC” with vengeance as its core mission.
Refugees and Women and Jews, Oh My!
The true nature of the Trump campaign oozed through the cracks over the weekend, with the candidate railing against Somali refugees during a Minneapolis speech and refugees in general during a suburban Detroit appearance. The two regions have large concentrations of of Somali and Arab populations respectively.
Another example of the misogyny in the campaign came via a Bloomberg News interview focusing on South Florida turnout with Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director.
Here’s the money quote:
Still, the Trump campaign is hoping that come Election Day, the profile of the voters who turn up at the polls will be more favorable to their candidate, enough to tilt this pivotal state into the Trump column. “It will be close,” Parscale said. But even he can’t know for sure. “It’s like predicting your wife’s mood. You have no idea what you’re going to get until you get home.”
But the real kicker is the alt-right influenced TV ad the Trump campaign is running.
It places Trump’s populist message against a montage of “enemies,” who happen to be Jewish.
From Talking Points Memo:
The Trump campaign released the ad Saturday, and it is reportedly set to spend $4 million to air it in nine swing states. It features audio of the Republican nominee declaiming against “global special interests” and “those who control the levers of power in Washington” played over footage of Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein – all of whom are Jewish, except Clinton.
The Anti-Defamation League and other organizations were quick to denounce the Trump ad:
— ADL (@ADL_National) November 6, 2016
The Trump Cabinet
NBC News has come up with a list of names being considered by the Trump transition team for top positions, should he win the election.
Among the names being considered, according to conversations with three campaign advisers who requested anonymity to speak freely: Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, Newt Gingrich for secretary of state, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn for defense secretary or national security adviser, Trump finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, and Republican National Committee finance chair Lew Eisenberg for commerce secretary…
…Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a loyal supporter, has taken a major role managing the transition effort, especially as the official transition chief, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has drifted from the campaign. It’s not clear Christie is being considered for a significant role in a potential administration either.
Jeremy Symons has a write up at Huffington Post on Myron Ebell, the man Trump has picked to lead his EPA transition team.
Ebell’s qualifications include currently being Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the dirty-industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
But it’s his early days that are revealing:
If you think that Ebell’s work to create doubt about climate mislead the public, it is not a coincidence. In researching this blog, I uncovered some new information about Myron Ebell’s start in the world of corporate-funded advocacy. As part of the tobacco lawsuits, a trove of documents have become publicly available, and an online search revealed the tobacco-funded roots of Ebell’s past.
The tobacco archives include a 1996 letter from Ebell’s early employer, Frontiers of Freedom Institute, to Samuel Chilcote Jr., president of the Tobacco Institute, the lobbying arm of the tobacco industry and a Frontiers funder. The letter spells out how funding from the Tobacco Institute helped Frontiers both in “protecting the first amendment rights of the tobacco industry” and in “hiring Mr. Myron Ebell as our policy director.”
In another document sent to Philip Morris in 1998, Frontiers requests more funding from Phillip Morris for several staff, including Policy Director Myron Ebell, as part of a broad campaign to make regulating the tobacco industry “politically unpalatable.”
Calexit: If Things Go Really Bad…
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
An organization hoping to facilitate the secession of California from the Union is holding a meet and greet on the Capitol steps in Sacramento next Wednesday, November 9, 2016, or, the day after the presidential election.
The Yes California Independence Campaign, which is based in San Diego, is aiming to qualify a citizen’s initiative in 2018 to get a referendum for secession on the ballot in 2019. They’ll be in Sacramento to garner support for their initiative.
“In our view,” a statement on its website reads, “the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children.“
The group has a 33-page book on its website outlining what they believe the case for succession could be.
On This Day: 1917 – Some 1,300 building trades workers in eastern Massachusetts participated in a general strike on all military work in the area to protest the use of open-shop (a work site in which union membership is not required as a condition of employment) builders. The strike held on for a week in the face of threats from the U.S. War Department. 1989 – L. Douglas Wilder won the governor’s race in Virginia, becoming the first elected African-American state governor in U.S. history. 2000 – Hillary Rodham Clinton made history as the first president’s wife to win public office. The state of New York elected her to the U.S. Senate
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