Monday, October 31, 2016

Cruising the Web

While Democrats scream and whine about the FBI Director announcing that he's reopened his investigation into Hillary's emails as a dirty and unprecedented October Surprise, let's not forget the glee with which they responded to Special Prosecutory Lawrence Walsh indicting former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger just days before the 1992 election. The Bill Clinton campaign jumped all over that and immediately wove it into their closing arguments that Bush was part of a "culture of corruption."
Additionally, though it's early, it also appears that a conscientious federal law enforcement officer reporting to Congress like Comey, having come across what he must believe is likely compelling new evidence, has little choice but to report what he knows as soon as he knows it, regardless of the election calendar.

By contrast, Lawrence Walsh, in his sixth year as Iran-Contra prosecutor, was under no compulsion to indict Cap Weinberger on October 30, 1992.

As it turned out, Walsh also had no basis to issue the indictment. What he appeared to have is an obsession with demonstrating that Bush 41 knew about Iran-Contra when he was Vice President under Ronald Reagan:

... Walsh was investigating the Iran Contra scandal and he had spent six years with little to show for it. After this period, he was seeking to indict former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Walsh initially indicted Weinberger in June of 1992, but the indictment was thrown out on technical grounds. ...

Walsh decided to indict Weinberger again. He then made two extremely dubious decisions. First, and most problematically, he had the re-indictment of Caspar Weinberger filed on October 30, the Friday before election day. What possible legitimate reason could there have been to file it then rather than the following week? What reason other than the illegitimate one to harm Bush’s candidacy could there have been for filing the indictment on that day?

Second, Walsh included in the indictment the words “VP favored” from Weinberger’s notes of an important meaning. This suggested to some and was played up by the liberal media that Bush was at a meeting he had denied attending. Thus, it could be used to support the claim that Bush was actually more involved in Iran Contra than he claimed and that he had lied about his involvement. Significantly, this was not necessarily the case nor was it necessary to include it the indictment.

The Weinberger indictment created an enormous media response and may very well have swung the election. On the Friday before the election, prior to the release of the re-indictment, the Bush internal tracking poll (as well as the Gallop poll of the previous day) indicated a surging Bush was tied with Clinton at 39 percent, with 12 percent supporting Perot, and an unusually large 10 percent still undecided. The re-indictment ended Bush’s surge and reversed the momentum. The Saturday Bush internal tracking poll indicted 39 percent for Clinton, 32 for Bush, and 19 percent for Perot.

Even Robert Pear at the New York Times was stunned at Walsh's audacity, though he saved that de facto assessment for the final paragraph of his October 31, 1992 story:
Mr. Walsh's relations with the Bush Administration have been frigid. Prosecutors could have used any of more than 1,700 pages of Mr. Weinberger's notes to show that he failed to comply with Congressional requests for his records relating to the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Walsh appeared to select one that was acutely embarrassing to the President.
There's more.

The October 30, 1992 indictment of Weinberger was thrown out just 43 days later. The reasons why prove that the indictment was a bogus preelection hit:

A Federal district judge today threw out a one-count indictment that was brought against former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger four days before the Presidential election and created an uproar when Republicans asserted that it had contributed to President Bush's defeat.

In his ruling the judge, Thomas F. Hogan, said the new charge violated the five-year statute of limitations in the Iran-contra case and improperly broadened the original indictment that was filed in June against Mr. Weinberger. The one-count indictment was returned by a grand jury on Oct. 30.
Are we expected to believe that an experienced lawyer, one chosen to be a special prosecutor didn't know about the statute of limitations and no one in his office sought to find out if it applied? He just randomly chose the Friday before an election to launch his own October Surprise to torpedo the surging Bush campaign?

As Paul Bedard writes, perhaps this is payback for Bill Clinton cheering Walsh's indictment of Weinberger.
When it came, Clinton seized on it, saying for example, "Secretary Weinberger's note clearly shows that President Bush has not been telling the truth when he says he was out of the loop." Clinton added, "It demonstrates that President Bush knew and approved of President Reagan's secret deal to swap arms for hostages."
Al Gore came out to talk about how Bush had been lying to the American public for years.

What karmic revenge given how the Clintons have been lying to the American people for so many more years.

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Michael Mukasey, who was Attorney General under George W. Bush, explains what James Comey had had to do in order to absolve Hillary Clinton in the first place. That is where the real politicization of his investigation came in.
Friday’s announcement had a history. Recall that Mr. Comey’s authority extends only to supervising the gathering of facts to be presented to Justice Department lawyers for their confidential determination of whether those facts justify a federal prosecution.

Nonetheless, in July he announced that “no reasonable prosecutor” would seek to charge her with a crime, although Mrs. Clinton had classified information on a private nonsecure server—at least a misdemeanor under one statute; and although she was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information such that it was exposed to hacking by hostile foreign nations—a felony under another statute; and apparently had caused the destruction of emails—a felony under two other statutes. He then told Congress repeatedly that the investigation into her handling of emails was closed....

Members of the military have been imprisoned and dishonorably discharged for mishandling far less information, and prosecutions for criminal negligence are commonplace and entirely permissible. Yet the attorney general, whose decisions they were, and who had available to her enough legal voltage to vaporize Mr. Comey’s flimsy reasons for inaction, told Congress she would simply defer to the director.

That July announcement of Mr. Comey, and that testimony by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, also had a history.

When the FBI learned that two of the secretary’s staff members had classified information on their computers, rather than being handed grand-jury subpoenas demanding the surrender of those computers, the staff members received immunity in return for giving them up. In addition, they successfully insisted that the computers not be searched for any data following the date when Congress subpoenaed information relating to its own investigation, and that the computers be physically destroyed after relevant data within the stipulated period was extracted.

The technician who destroyed 30,000 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails after Congress directed that they be preserved lied to investigators even after receiving immunity. He then testified that Clinton aides requested before service of the subpoena that he destroy them, and that he destroyed them afterward on his own initiative.

Why would an FBI director, who at one time was an able and aggressive prosecutor, agree to such terms or accept such a fantastic story?

The search for clues brings us to an email to then-Secretary Clinton from President Obama, writing under a pseudonym, that the FBI showed to Ms. Abedin. That email, along with 21 others that passed between the president and Secretary Clinton, has been withheld by the administration from release on confidentiality grounds not specified but that could only be executive privilege.

After disclosure of those emails, the president said during an interview that he thought Mrs. Clinton should not be criminally charged because there was no evidence that she had intended to harm the nation’s security—a showing required under none of the relevant statutes. As indefensible as his legal reasoning may have been, his practical reasoning is apparent: If Mrs. Clinton was at criminal risk for communicating on her nonsecure system, so was he.

That presented the FBI director with a dilemma that was difficult, but not complex. It offered two choices. He could have tried to proceed along the course marked by the relevant laws. The FBI is powerless to present evidence to a grand jury, or to issue grand-jury subpoenas. That authority lies with the Justice Department, headed by an attorney general who serves, as her certificate of appointment recites, “during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being.”
Comey should have insisted on empaneling a grand jury and gone to the public if Lynch denied his request.
If she refused, he could have gone public with his request, and threatened to resign if it was not followed. If she had agreed, he would have been in the happy position last week of having discovered yet further evidence that could be offered in support of pending charges. If she had refused, he could have resigned.
But Comey didn't do that. And so he doesn't have a grand jury now to look at whatever evidence he finds on Weiner's laptop. And a lot of the key figures have already been given immunity.
And what of the future? Mr. Comey reportedly wrote his letter to Congress over the objection of the attorney general and her deputy. Thus, regardless of what is in the newly discovered emails, the current Justice Department will not permit a grand jury to hear evidence in this case. And because only a grand jury can constitutionally bring charges, that means no charges will be brought.
As the WSJ writes, the Clinton campaign and Democrats are trying to change the story into demonization of James Comey. It worked with Ken Starr, didn't it?
Mrs. Clinton could still help voters out by coughing up her 33,000 missing emails. Or she could let her aide Huma Abedin explain to the press what she may have sent to estranged husband Anthony Weiner, whose laptop contains the new-found emails. But that kind of genuine transparency might be hard to contain. And with eight days until Nov. 8 the Democrats need someone else to blame for all of their previous lack of political transparency.

That means Mr. Comey, who over the weekend became the latest stand-in for the vast right-wing conspiracy....

Ms. Lynch’s team is now leaking, and the Clinton campaign is amplifying, that Mr. Comey sent his Friday letter over the objections of Justice officials. But then why didn’t Ms. Lynch simply order him not to send the letter? The AG has clear line authority over the FBI director. Our guess is that she feared that Mr. Comey might then have resigned, which would have created an even bigger pre-election firestorm than an ambiguous letter.

Democrats and Mrs. Clinton are now demanding that Mr. Comey release more details, and our sympathies are also toward airing this out. But Mr. Comey can’t make more information public if it would compromise the FBI’s investigative trail, and finishing the probe in a week is highly unlikely. Thus the Clinton campaign’s sudden demands for transparency have the political virtue of making her sound unworried while knowing nothing more is likely to come out before Election Day.

The other Clinton line is that there’s nothing in these emails to worry about, though no one outside the FBI and the Clinton campaign knows. It’s hard to believe, however, that Mr. Comey would have risked the wrath of his former Democratic defenders by sending that letter to Congress if his agents hadn’t discovered something potentially serious. The Journal’s Devlin Barrett also reported Sunday on months of dissension between the FBI and Justice over the agency’s separate probes into the emails and the Clinton Foundation.

Donald Trump is reacting to this with his usual overkill, asserting without evidence that the new emails may be those missing 33,000. But the legal and political blundering at Justice and FBI feed his message that the executive branch needs to be swept clean to end a culture of corruption. Mr. Comey is no hero, but neither is he responsible for Mrs. Clinton’s potential legal jeopardy. She has built her own career monument of deception and public mistrust.

Ed Morrissey is struck by how the Democrats, who were cheering the probity of James Comey when he decided not to indict Hillary Clinton even after giving a long list of all the reasons why she should have been indicted, have now totally switched and find him to be a partisan hack.
There’s no small amount of irony in that, nor in the sudden demands for full transparency from Hillary Clinton and the rest of her team. Had Hillary been transparent about her e-mail server from the beginning — or used the State Department system, which was designed to provide transparency to Congress and the courts while securing the information — she wouldn’t find herself in this mess. As I noted a few times on Twitter yesterday, transparency on her example would have Comey wait six years to release the information after telling numerous courts and Congress that it didn’t exist, and then deleting half of it and printing the other half on 55,000 sheets of paper.

Demands for transparency from the Clintons that paint themselves as victims is akin to a parricide defendant demand mercy from the court based on his status as an orphan.

Besides, Comey sent the letter in part because of transparency. He had testified to Congress on more than one occasion that the investigation into Hillary’s e-mail system had concluded. We know this anyway, because Comey published his conclusions in early July, but that testimony has the force of being under oath. When that status changed — and whether or not Comey used the word “reopen,” he reopened a case that had been concluded — Comey would have some duty to notify the congressional committees that the status had changed. Had he not, and the FBI found something significant after the election, Comey would have been accused of acting politically to keep the status change quiet. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, but that’s in large part Comey’s own doing — the price for having chickened out on pressing for a grand jury to review the clear evidence of violations of 18 USC 793 and 18 USC 1924.


John Hinderaker scoffs at the story that Loretta Lynch warned Comey not to release a letter to Congress about the renewal of his investigation.
He was warned not to meddle–by Loretta Lynch! When Comey let Hillary skate, despite overwhelming evidence of her guilt under the applicable federal law, that wasn’t meddling. But when Comey told Congress that, contrary to his earlier testimony, the investigation was no longer considered to be over–that’s “meddling in politics.”

As for the Democrats’ claims that Comey’s letter to Congressional committees was unprecedented and contrary to DOJ policy against public discussion of pending criminal investigations, the whole situation with Hillary’s off-the-books email system is unprecedented. Has the FBI ever before carried out a criminal investigation of a presidential nominee in the midst of the campaign? No.

Some might cite Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh’s October 1992 re-indictment of Caspar Weinberger as a precedent, but that case was entirely different. Walsh was a Democrat.

As for DOJ policy, if Loretta Lynch can discuss the FBI’s investigation with Bill Clinton, surely the FBI director can discuss it with Congress.

But whom am I kidding? Everyone knows that mere “policies” don’t apply to high-ranking Democrats, let alone the Clintons.

More to the point, however, Comey did not, in the first instance, make public comment on a pending investigation. While the investigation was going on, the FBI remained silent. It was when the investigation was over and the decision had been made not to charge Mrs. Clinton that Comey publicly explained, and then was called before a Congressional committee to testify about, his rationale.

That action, which was publicly applauded by the Democrats, led directly to Thursday’s communication with Congressional committee chairmen. Comey wrote to tell them that his testimony, under oath, that the Clinton investigation had been concluded was no longer accurate, in view of the newly-discovered emails.

One can agree or disagree with Comey’s course of action, but to denounce it as unprecedented meddling in politics, in violation of DOJ policy, is, in my view, silly.

Paul Mirengoff points out that Hillary refused at her mini press availability to answer a question about Huma Abedin and whether she'd spoken to Huma about this. The claim is that the news broke while the campaign was in the air and didn't have wifi on the plane so the reporters were learning about it before or just about when the campaign did. Why wouldn't she have asked Huma about what might have been on that laptop? Either she did and she doesn't want to tell anyone what Huma said or she didn't ask because she wanted to maintain some sort of deniability about the whole story.
...there can be no doubt that as soon as Team Clinton got the news about the investigation (apparently, they learned about it only upon landing in Iowa) — and certainly before speaking to the press — she asked her closest aide what might be of interest to the FBI on her device and those of her husband. These, after all, are the devices the discovery of which reportedly has prompted the reopening of the investigation that has rocked the Clinton campaign.

From Abedin, Clinton must have learned more than the rest of us know about what has piqued the FBI’s interest. Her claim to be totally in the dark surely is a lie.

During the press conference, Clinton called on Director Comey to tell the public what the newly recovered emails say. She insists that the public, which has already started voting, has the right to know.

Comey isn’t in a position to discuss the emails at the outset of his expanded investigation, but Hillary Clinton is.

In the interest of the public’s right to know, Clinton could describe for us, to the best of her understanding, the nature of the emails Abedin sent and received on the devices in question. Alternatively, she could have Abedin do it. Whether anyone would believe Clinton or Abedin is another matter.

For all the Democrats' yelps of invective against Comey, let us not forget who the real culprit is...Hillary Clinton. If she hadn't broken the law by setting up her own private server to sidestep legal requirements of transparency governing federal officials and then acted completely irresponsibly in how she channeled her communication through that server and then repeatedly lied to the American people about it, there would be no investigation. As Michael Goodwin writes,
Clinton created the mess with her incredibly stupid decision to use a private server as secretary of state. Virtually every major issue dogging her, including her reputation for chronic dishonesty, was started or exacerbated by that decision, including the current one....

Still, Clinton is understandably panicked because the timing of Comey’s announcement could cost her the election. Her demand that he release everything immediately is also understandable, even as she knows it is impossible for him to release potential evidence before it is examined.

Her attacks on him play well to her base, and her media handmaidens are amplifying the complaint that he has gone rogue. But, as usual, there is less than meets the eye here, for Clinton could solve the problem herself without Comey doing anything to help.

She could simply order Abedin to hold a press conference and answer any and every question about the newest batch of e-mails. Let reporters ask Abedin directly: What’s in those e-mails? Did any contain classified material?

Why didn’t you turn that computer over to the FBI during its initial investigation? Did you lie to the FBI about having work-related e-mails on it?

Also, did Weiner have access to classified material? Was the computer ever hacked?

The potential upside is huge. If Abedin can answer “no” to all the key questions about classified material and her own conduct, Clinton could credibly declare Comey’s announcement much ado about nothing.

She could even hold her own press conference to answer questions and conclude by saying: We have been as transparent as we can be, and we are not afraid of a new investigation because we have nothing to hide.

Now, back to reality. Clinton reality.

Hillary won’t do any of that because the potential downside is also huge. My guess is she fears the worst, and may secretly subscribe to the idea that Comey wouldn’t have acted in such a bold and controversial way without some conviction that he had stumbled on a potential bombshell.

And Clinton, a former litigator used to playing defense, probably already knows what’s in the e-mails. Or perhaps she has concluded that, if indeed there are thousands of them, as is being reported, at least some are bound to re-fuel suspicions that she and her team are guilty of mishandling national secrets.
The Democrats are like little kids blaming their older brother for tattling to Mommy about the trouble they got up to.

Orin Kerr has a post up explaining why the FBI's investigation of Huma's emails on her husband's server might not pass constitutional muster based on the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. It's hard to get a definitive judgment on his points since it's all conjecture now about what the FBI saw on the computer and what was in the search warrant that they used in the first place to look through the computer.

Well, so much for Trump's claim that no one loves veterans more than he does.
Donald Trump apparently had no idea what a “Gold Star family” was when he decided to engage in a feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, shortly after receiving the Republican presidential nomination this summer.

According to a new report from New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, Trump frustrated campaign aides when he lashed out at the Khans, parents of a fallen Muslim American soldier, who criticized Trump on stage at the Democratic National Convention.

“You do know you just attacked a Gold Star family?” an adviser reportedly asked Trump, who simply replied, “What’s that?”

They're never going away. New York Magazine looks at how those in the Trump campaign are looking to transform the support Trump has gathered into a new sort of political movement.
Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, who is taking a leave of absence from his role as executive chairman of Breitbart News to work with the Trump team, has an even bigger ambition for all those voters: reshaping the GOP and future elections. “The main goal for Steve was dealing a devastating blow to the permanent political class,” Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow told me. “It’s pretty clear he’s upended the Republican Establishment, so it’s a huge win for Steve’s ideas and for Breitbart’s ideas.” If the Republican Party of the past was full of rich fiscal conservatives who benefited from free trade, low taxes, low regulation, and low-wage immigrant labor, Bannon envisions a new party that is home to working-class whites, grassroots conservatives, libertarians, populists, and disaffected millennials who had gravitated toward the Bernie Sanders campaign — in other words, Trump supporters.

It’s clear that this until-now-­underserved group has tremendous potential, both commercially and politically. But Trump doesn’t seem to know what to do with them beyond stoking their anger. In terms of the future, he is falling back on what he knows, bolstering the businesses that have suffered during the campaign. In recent days, Trump has dragged the national press corps to his new Washington hotel and his Miami-Dade golf course, essentially turning the campaign into a giant infomercial for his luxury properties. “Our bookings are doing great!” he told me. “The political involvement has made my clubs hotter because of this avalanche of earned media.”

The paradox is that Trump’s political brand and his commercial brand are very much at odds. “The people who are passionate about his brand can’t afford it right now,” a real-estate executive who knows Trump told me. And those who can afford it are less likely to want to be associated with his name. “He might have to go into multifamily rentals. Maybe he could put gold fixtures in a trailer park,” said the executive.
I'm not sure how many of those voters will be there for other non-Trump candidates. Trump imitators haven't done well in the primaries. Part of his appeal was his celebrity status. We'll have to see if an ordinary politician could garner the votes of these same people without having the Trump-like aura.

What is funny reading this story in the New York Magazine is how his aides talk about how they get Trump to follow their advice. It sounds like a bunch of moms at a play-date talking about how they get their toddlers to do what they want.
The key to managing Trump, she [Kellyanne Conway] told me, is to let him feel like he is in control — always. “It all has to be his decision in the end,” she said. A Trump donor explained it this way: “Trump has the following personality: NIH-NFW, meaning ‘If it’s not invented here, not invented behind these eyes, then it’s no fucking way.’ ”

When she was promoted to campaign manager in mid-August, Conway met with Trump in his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower. She told him two things: that he was losing and that he was running a joyless campaign. “What would make you happier in the job?” she asked.

“ ‘I miss flying around and giving rallies when it was just a couple of us on the plane,’ ” he told her.

So Conway encouraged Trump to go on the road and traveled with him to serve as a moderating influence. Mainly, she wanted him to “show his humanity.” She tried to get him to improve his image with women by appealing to his business sense. “You have to find new customers,” she told him. Another strategy she employed with him stemmed from the fact that Trump is such an avid cable-news viewer: “A way you can communicate with him is you go on TV to communicate,” she said. That doesn’t mean Trump took the advice. Conway said that plenty of her ideas “never saw the light of day,” adding that “we had too little time to do certain meaningful things in a consequential way, like implement a full outreach to Evangelicals, Catholics, and, of course, women.”

....One reason Conway and Bannon have been safe from Trump’s wrath despite his poor performance in the polls: They have the trust of the Trump children, especially Ivanka and, by extension, her husband. Perhaps no one has more experience at trying to manage Trump than his eldest daughter. Ivanka, who declined to comment, has tried to temper him at various stages of the campaign, but it has proved impossible, even for her, to keep him on message. According to sources, Ivanka is especially worried that the campaign has caused lasting damage to the family business. “She thinks this is not good for the brand. She would like to distance herself from it. She’s seen some of the pressures the hotels have come under,” one adviser said.
Well, she's right. The brand will never be the same. Trump's campaign hasn't appealed to the high-end spenders who are the clientele the Trump businesses cater to. That's why his high-end brand hotels have dropped the Trump name and will now be called Scion, not Trump. And the new hotel he's been promoting in D.C. in the Old Post Office building is not doing well at all.
The 263-room five-star hotel in the historic Old Post Office building opened last month. But even with a prime location near the White House, swanky interiors, and aggressive promotion by the candidate himself, empty rooms have forced the hotel to reduce rates during a peak season. At the same time, the hotel has lost two planned restaurants, Hispanic employees are making claims of discrimination, and protesters are gearing up to do whatever they can to cause trouble for the hotel....

While the break-even rate on the hotel rooms is more than $750 a night, by some estimates last weekend rooms could be had for under $500 per night — at a time when rival hotels were sold out weeks ahead of time. In his bid to win the lease, Trump promised to offer luxurious suites to lure business execs and diplomats, but many of the international elite appear to be avoiding it.

Last weekend bankers and dignitaries from around the world descended on Washington for the annual World Bank–IMF meetings. But just a few days before the conference, rooms were not only still available at Trump International, they were heavily discounted. On October 2, a deluxe room, with a rack rate of $805, could be had for as low $445 a night on Hotels.com. All other five-star D.C. downtown hotels were sold out. By Wednesday, October 5, weekend stays in the deluxe rooms were marked down to $404 per night on Trump International’s own website. The more luxurious 500-square-foot executive rooms, with a city view and marble bath, were only $484. By comparison, at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, the only available rooms were $1,139 per night, according to Hotels.com....

The hotel not only has a prime location and swank interiors, it boasts a branded Ivanka Trump spa, and tourist attractions related the building’s old function as a post office. But none of that seems to be attracting guests.

“You don’t see taxis stopping by like they do at the Marriott or the Willard, which are nearby,” says Pena, who works in the area. “It’s dark. There is no feeling of hospitality.” Locals aren’t eating at the restaurant for lunch either, she says.

“It’s a shame that it is called Trump because it’s a beautiful property. But overall, his brand is hurting,” the travel agent adds.
So Ivanka is absolutely right to worry about how Trump's run for the presidency is hurting the family brand and will bring more financial problems to their business.
Trump won his lease from the General Services Administration with a bid $60 million higher than competitors like Hilton Hotels, Hyatt, and Marriott, all of whom complained to the GSA that his plan was uneconomic and would lead to another failed effort to renovate the property. The room revenues required to make the Trump bid work “are simply not attainable in this location based on the concepts for the redevelopment,” lawyers for Hilton told the government.

In their April 16, 2012, letter to the GSA protesting the acceptance of Trump’s bid, Hilton’s lawyers warned that the government was setting itself up for a “devastating failure for the historical landmark with a business partner whose history of repeated failure demonstrates that it cannot be counted on to deliver what it promises.” Eighteen pages of the letter detailed Trump’s business failures and lawsuits against him.

Trump was forced to put more than $40 million of his own money into the deal after his first business partner, private equity firm Colony Capital, backed out. Deutsche Bank, the troubled German bank, is putting up $170 million for the project.
How ironic if Trump is headed for another bankruptcy filing in a few years that he'll then deny ever happened.

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Jeff Greenfield has a depressing observation about how the ugliness of this year's politics are not going to end any time soon.
If you think this contest has demonstrated fault lines in our political system, I have news for you: Come January, we may all be standing close to the San Andreas fault of government dysfunction.

Take the most likely result of the elections: a comfortable Clinton win, a very narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, and a reduced Republican majority in the House. Mix in the optimistic assumption that there’s at least some desire for a working relationship among Clinton and (current) GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.
The House GOP won't be in any mood to compromise with Clinton. If you thought it was ugly within the GOP caucus before, imagine how it will be after the election with Ryan supporters full of recriminations of what the no-compromise faction of the caucus has wrought. Paul Ryan will have to either work with them or try to garner votes from the Democratic side of the aisle. Don't expect them to want to work to make his life easier. No wonder that we're starting to hear murmurings that he would step down.

There is going to be the same sort of division among the Republican senators. And Hillary Clinton would face division among the Democrats in both houses if she tries to compromise with the Republicans.
Imagine, for instance, if President Clinton is looking for some ground on which to stand with the Republicans, as Bill Clinton did on welfare reform and the budget. This is not Mrs. Clinton’s husband’s Democratic Party. It has moved significantly to the left—the party platform is dramatic evidence of that—and the progressive wing of the party is already feeling burned by the WikiLeaks revelations about just what her campaign thought about Sanders and the progressive movement.
So where is her running room? Walk back her opposition to trade pacts? Look for trims on entitlements? Try to shape an infrastructure program that allows for a multi-tiered wage structure? It’s hard to imagine any “reach across the aisle” that would not be characterized by party progressives as a deal with the devil. And with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, there will be highly visible figures to raise warnings of a Clinton surrender.
And if there is any more fallout from the various investigations into her behavior at State or more WikiLeaks, she'll need the support of the Democrats in Congress just as her husband needed during the impeachment scandal. So she'll have to move left to keep those Democrats. That would obviate the possibility of compromise with the Republicans.

It's going to be increasingly ugly. We might look back to the fights during the Obama and Bush administrations as high points of comity.

Ramesh Ponnuru offers some optimism for those who think the Republican Party is dying and we'll see some new party emerge from its ashes.
’m skeptical on two grounds. First: The existing Republican party includes most of the country’s governors; it has majorities in the House and Senate and may continue to have them after the election. This is a party that’s dying? Second: Wouldn’t a new non-liberal party that can compete with the Democrats have to include pretty much all the same voters as the Republican party? And wouldn’t that coalition of religious conservatives, working-class nationalists, small businessmen, and so on have all the same tensions and dysfunctions that Republicans do?
Well, I guess that might not be all that optimistic.

I'm teaching the 1850s this week in my U.S. History class and will be talking about the demise of the Whig Party and the emergence of the Republican Party. When I read the speculation that something like that might happen today, I am extremely skeptical. In the decades before the Civil War, there were new parties popping up almost ever four years. Parties such as the Workingmen's Party, the Anti-Masonic Party, the Liberty Party, the Free-Soil Party, and the Know-Nothing Party all had their moment and then collapsed. I tell my students that it's like Whack-a-Mole for political parties in that era. They pop up and then they fade away.

The Republican Party emerged in 1854 and was able to build on the remains of the Whig Party which had just collapsed. The new party was able to bring together a lot of the disaffected northern Whigs as well as the remains of all those earlier parties plus pull in some northern Democrats dismayed at the pro-slavery tilt of the party. It was a unique moment in American history and the Republican Party was lucky in its timing and ability to pull together all these disparate groups. And it helped that the Democratic Party imploded into northern and southern parties in the 1860 election and thus bring about the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Not only don't we have those historical conditions today, we also have an overlay of laws that the parties have passed in the states to make it very hard for any new party to get on the ballots. The rules for debates in presidential elections, and for state elections in many states, make it almost impossible for third-party candidates to get on the stage. As I tell my students, the Democrats and Republicans might not agree on much, but they do agree that they don't want to make life easy for third parties. So don't look for some new party to supplant the Republican Party.

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How's this for a vote of confidence in dear ol' dad's presidential campaign?
With less than two weeks until the election, Donald Trump has amassed an impressive army of small donors, fueling his bid with individual contributions of $200 or less. But noticeably absent from the list of contributors is basically anyone with the last name Trump, many of the surrogates who represent The Donald on national television, and members of his own campaign staff.
According to a review of Federal Election Commission filings by The Daily Beast, only one of Trump’s children showed up on a list of itemized receipts for the campaign: Eric. On Sept. 7, 2016, Eric Trump appears to have contributed $376.20 listed only as “meeting expense: meals.” It appears that money was later refunded. Eric Trump did not respond to a request for comment about the transaction.

Ivanka Trump, who previously contributed to Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2007 and 2008 respectively, does not appear to have given to her father.

Donald Trump Jr., who contributed to Iowa congressman Steve King in 2014 and Hillary Clinton in 2007, is also nowhere to be found.

And a search for Tiffany Trump yielded no results.
So we have the odd result that Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr. have contributed more to Hillary than they have to their own father.

John Hawkins has chosen the "Five Biggest Revelations About Hillary Clinton From WikiLeaks.We learned that her pals who are Democrats being paid to appear on the media fed her debate questions occasionally ahead of time. It's certainly handy to have former Democratic operatives all cozy within the media. We learned that, despite her transparent attempts to deny that she said what she actually said, she is dreaming about "open trade and open borders." She was paid off by the King of Morocco while Secretary of State.

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The Washington Post has an interesting interview with economic historian Joel Mokyr, author of A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy about the Industrial Revolution and why it first happened in Europe and not in China. Not knowing all that much about the history of China, but having to teach the Industrial Revolution in my history classes, I found this analysis quite intriguing.
I believe the fundamental reason is China’s position as a single empire, and also its bureaucracy, which is a unique and peculiar animal. On the one hand, it is very progressive, because it is a meritocracy. In Europe, the people who were in power were the sons and nephews of other people in power. But in China there’s an examination, and the people who did the best rose in the Mandarin civil service. So you’d think, “Wow, that’s very progressive.” Except if you look at what they were studying for these exams, they were simply regurgitating the classics. It was the perfect tool to keep reproducing from the same mold generation after generation.

Bob Dylan has finally emerged to talk about his Nobel Prize. Apparently, he wasn't being disrespectful by not taking the Nobel Committee's phone calls. He was just being the quintessence of being Bob Dylan.

You knew this was coming, but I still find these Hitler Finds Out spoofs funny each time I see one. Now Hitler finds out that the FBI reopened their investigation into Hillary Clinton.

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