U.S. Politics

Cummings’ shocker: Americans don’t ‘have a clue’ how hard the GOP pushed the FBI to attack Clinton

Rep. Elijah Cummings (YouTube)

Rep. Elijah Cummings (YouTube)


Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is furious that the FBI is caving to GOP pressure without giving the same treatment to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In a Monday morning interview with CNN’s “New Day,” Cummings admitted he was shocked by the letter that FBI Director James Comey sent to his committee.

“I was surprised that the director who has told our committee on several occasions that his number one concern is his reputation that he would issue a letter that, number one, was so vague,” Cummings began. “And that, basically, gave Donald Trump a softball to hit over the fence. And he knew, I’m sure, that this is exactly what Donald Trump would do. He would exaggerate.”

Cummings went on to call the letter vague again, saying that it leaves so many facts out of the equation. But given the pressure Comey was under from the GOP, he’s not shocked it happened. “We don’t know how many of these e-mails are duplicates. And we don’t have very much information at all. But the fact still remains that — it doesn’t surprise me, though, in a way that he did this. Because I don’t think the American people have a clue as to how hard the Republicans, particularly on my committee, have been on the FBI.”

According to Cummings, the GOP loved Comey, but when he came to them in July recommending no charges for Hillary Clinton they turned on him.

“So, you know, and now what they’re doing is trying to get every note,” Cummings said of the committee attempting to get every ounce of information from the FBI. “They’ve gotten the interviews of the FBI and everything involved in the investigation. Now, as I told director Comey at the time of the hearing back in July, I said to him, ‘Sir, they are now going to investigate you and your agency.’ That’s exactly what they’re doing. He asked me, in a way, was I surprised? I wasn’t.”

Cummings doesn’t think that Comey released the latest information for partisan reasons. Instead, he believes the GOP has pushed Comey to the actions he took.

“I think what has happened is that he knows that Republicans, if he makes any misstep the Republicans are going to be all over him and they’re going to try to bring harm to him,” Cummings said. “And he doesn’t want to — I think his position is, ‘Look, they’re looking at everything I do. I want to make sure that I let them know what’s going on.’”

There was one moment that stuck out to Cummings during the Comey hearing in July, however. “He said ‘I do not believe that there should be a double standard to the disadvantage of Secretary Clinton,’” he quoted. But that double standard is exactly what Cummings says is happening at the FBI.

“One of the things that you all have not talked about,” Cummings continued. “I listened to the interview with Jason Miller about information out there about Mr. Trump, Mr. Manafort and the Russian government. Members of Congress, including myself, have asked for months for the FBI to provide us with information as to whether Mr. Trump other associates and the Russian government have any coordination or connection with each other.” Not one ounce of information has been given to Congress on it.

Cummings believes there is a a clear double standard. “You have Hillary Clinton and Ms. Abedin, who has cooperated with the FBI. Keep in mind when the FBI came before my committee, this is what the director said. He said ‘I had 20 of my all-star FBI agents, senior FBI agents, who agreed unanimously, that there was no reason to bring charges in and no reasonable prosecutor would do it.”

He continued, saying that the fairness is missing in the FBI because it has left Clinton unable to defend herself while Trump gets to make wild accusations based on zero information. He wants to see the FBI give Manafort and Trump the same treatment.

Check out the interview below:


U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: October 31, 2016

Scott Olson/Getty Images


1. Clinton’s lead narrows in poll after latest FBI email news
An ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll released Sundaysuggested the presidential race had tightened slightly after FBI Director James Comey told Congress about new emails possibly related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The poll, conducted partly before and partly after Comey’s Friday revelation, showed Clinton’s lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump narrowing to just 1 percentage point nationally, down from 2 points just before Comey’s letter and 12 points a week earlier. Trump has gained as more Republicans rally behind him. Other polls have shown the race tightening in key battleground states, although a new CBS tracking poll of likely voters in 13 swing states found that 71 percent said Comey’s letter either wouldn’t change their minds, or they had already voted.

Source: The Washington Post, Bloomberg

2. Cubs beat Indians in Game 5 to stay alive in World Series
The Chicago Cubs kept their World Series hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in a tense, must-win Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Sunday night. The Indians now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. The Indians have another chance to win the championship on Tuesday when they return to Cleveland from Chicago for Game 6. On Sunday, the Cubs’ quest for their first World Series championship in 108 years got a boost from strong performances by ace pitcher Jon Lester and reliever Aroldis Chapman, and a Kris Bryant home run that sparked a three-run fourth inning.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Reuters

3. FBI gets warrant to review emails linked to Clinton aide
The FBI has obtained a search warrant to allow agents to review emails found on a computer used by former Congressman Anthony Weiner that could be relevant to the investigation into the private email server Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, used when she was secretary of state, law enforcement officials said Sunday. Going over the emails could take weeks. Nearly 650,000 emails were collected in the sexting investigation of Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin. Agents investigating Clinton’s emails knew for weeks that some of the emails recovered in the Weiner case could be linked to Clinton’s server, but FBI Director James Comey said that he was only informed about them last Thursday, and promptly wrote lawmakers to update them.

Source: The Washington Post

4. Racially sensitive trials get underway in Charleston
Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Michael Slager, a white former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer charged with murder after fatally shooting unarmed black motorist Walter Scott during a tense April 2015 traffic stop. A week later, the federal death penalty trial is to start for self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof, who is accused of gunning down nine black parishioners and the pastor of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. “The community is, for lack of better words, on eggshells,” said Justin Bamberg, a state lawmaker and lawyer representing Scott’s family.

Source: Reuters

5. Clinton takes apparent early-voting lead
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads her Republican rival, Donald Trump, by 15 percentage points among early voters surveyed in the last two weeks, according to Reuters/Ipsos State of the Nation polling data released on Sunday. About 19 million voters — 20 percent of the electorate — have already voted. Survey data was not available for all states, but Clinton had the edge in such swing states as Ohio and Arizona, as well as traditional Republican strongholds such as Georgia and Texas with just 11 days to go before the Nov. 8 election. Democrats also hold an edge in turnout in North Carolina, which is widely viewed as one of the key battlegrounds this year for the White House and control of the Senate.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times

6. U.S. tells consulate workers’ families to leave Istanbul
The Obama administration ordered family members of U.S. Consulate workers in Istanbul, Turkey, to leave the country due to security concerns, although the Consulate will remain open. The State Department updated its travel advisory on Turkey following the decision, urging citizens not to travel to Turkey because of “increased threats from terrorist groups.” The revised warning came after another advisory last week urged Americans to avoid travel to the southeast part of the country. Turkey on Sunday continued a post-coup-attempt crackdown on opponents, dismissing more than 10,000 civil servants and closing 15 mostly pro-Kurdish media outlets.

Source: Time, The Associated Press

7. Iceland’s prime minister to resign after Pirate Party surge
Iceland’s prime minister, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, announced Sundaythat he would resign after his center-right Progressive Party lost more than half its seats in Iceland’s ancient parliament, the 63-seat Althing. Meanwhile, the 4-year-old Pirate Party — described as “a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians, and Web geeks” — more than tripled its parliamentary presence from three seats to 10. But the new prime minister will likely come from the conservative Independence Party, which now holds the largest block in the Althing at 21 seats. Johannsson had only been in office since the Panama Papers scandal forced out his predecessor in April.

Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press

8. Reid says Comey broke law; Trump says Clinton did
Republicans and Democrats intensified their rhetoric surrounding FBI Director James Comey’s revelation that agents were investigating newly discovered emails that could be related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Donald Trump, Clinton’s Republican rival in the Nov. 8presidential election, on Sunday accused Clinton of “willful and deliberate criminal conduct.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it was Comey who might have broken the law, by disclosing the murky issue just 11 days before the election, a potential violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition against partisan politicking by government employees. “Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another,” Reid wrote in a letter to Comey.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Oklahoma murder suspect dies in shootout after week-long manhunt
Oklahoma state troopers shot and killed murder suspect Michael Dale Vance Jr. on Sunday, ending a week-long manhunt. “It was pretty dramatic,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Ricky Adams said. The shootout occurred after troopers set up roadblocks on a country road after Vance allegedly shot Dewey County Sheriff Clay Sander, who was being treated in a hospital for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds to the arm and shoulder. Vance, 38, had been on the run since allegedly shooting and injuring two police officers, then driving to a home and killing two relatives, Ronald Wilkson and Valerie Kay Wilkson.

Source: The Oklahoman

10. Landmarks from Middle Ages crumble in latest Italy earthquake
The powerful earthquake that hit Central Italy on Sunday injured at least 20 people and devastated numerous historic churches and other landmark buildings dating as far back as the Middle Ages. In Preci, cemetery walls fell and crushed the Abbey of St. Euticius, founded in the 5th century. The old town of Arquata del Tronto, including its 13th century church, was mostly destroyed. No deaths were immediately reported, but authorities said Monday that 15,000 people had been displaced and the number was expected to rise. The 6.6 magnitude quake, the strongest to hit the country in 36 years, struck the same region shaken by back-to-back temblors last week, and many of the hardest hit towns had been evacuated following the earlier quakes. The region was still recovering from an August quake that killed more than 300 people.

Source: The Washington Post, CBS News


U.S. Politics

Most routes to 270 blocked for Trump


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The race for president reaches its final mile next week amid October surprises, but on the road to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, Hillary Clinton still has several ways to find her way to Washington.

The journey Donald Trump must take is perilous, at best.

Even as some national preference polls tighten, and voters wrestle with news the FBI has found new emails that may — or may not — be related to Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state, the billionaire Republican needs a dramatic final-stretch rebound in states where the Democratic nominee appears to have the upper hand.

The latest Associated Press analysis of the Electoral College map rates states worth 278 electoral votes as safely Democratic or leaning Clinton’s way. That analysis is based on preference polling, recent electoral history, demographic trends and campaign priorities such as advertising, travel and on-the-ground staff.

In short, that means Clinton doesn’t need to win a state now rated as a toss-up to win the White House.

Trump needs to win them all — and then go on to pick off some states that are now in Clinton’s column.

Impossible, it’s not. The effects of the FBI Director James Comey’s Friday letter to Congress, informing lawmakers of developments possibly related to the Clinton email case, may not be known until Election Day itself.

Trump leapt on the news this weekend, but so, too, did Clinton, casting Comey’s decision to act so close to Nov. 8 as “deeply troubling” as she sought to rally Democratic voters.

So, then, what is the path for Trump to chin himself to 270 votes? He’ll have to start by carrying the reliably Republican states in the West, the Great Plains and in South that make up the GOP’s Electoral College base.

From there, he’d need a run of victories in states now viewed as a toss-up.

Among them, North Carolina has received as much attention from both campaigns as any — traditional battlegrounds Florida and Ohio included. For good reason: GOP nominee Mitt Romney won the state in 2012, after President Barack Obama’s historic win there in 2008.

But after trailing in mail ballots, Democrats surged ahead of Republicans in ballots cast after the start of in-person early voting last week. Meanwhile, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll gives Clinton a 6-point edge in the state.

A win in North Carolina, and Florida and Ohio, too, still isn’t enough to get Trump to 270. He also needs to win states now leaning Clinton’s way.

In Nevada, Trump’s hardline position on immigration has turned off many in the state’s large Hispanic population — giving Clinton an advantage. Likewise, tens of thousands more Democrats than Republicans had voted early in the state as of last week.

In New Hampshire, the state’s politics are disproportionately influenced by women: the state’s governor, two senators and a majority of its state Senate are women. Trump has long struggled with college-educated women, a situation made worse by a string of recent allegations of unwanted sexual advances or sexual assault involving the Republican.

“At this point, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Trump to win the state of New Hampshire. He’s running out of time,” said Ryan Williams, a GOP consultant in the state, echoing others. “He’s going to lose.”

All of these scenarios also assume Trump carries each of the states his party’s nominees have won for decades — a firewall in which cracks are starting to appear.

In Arizona, where Republican nominees have won all but once since 1952, Clinton has begun a late-game $2-million advertising blitz and tapped into a robust state Democratic organization. She has pulled even with Trump in some surveys, and slightly ahead in others, while early voting favors Democrats, as does the state’s large and growing Hispanic population.

Clinton is scheduled to campaign there this week, following first lady Michelle Obama’s large rally in Phoenix two weeks ago.

Trump also cannot count on Utah, carried by a Republican in the past 12 elections. Independent candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer from Utah, is running even in the state, where the GOP nominee is unpopular with the state’s influential Mormon population.

But perhaps the most surprising development has been increasingly competitive signs in Texas. Three polls in the past two weeks have shown Clinton within five percentage points of Trump

The Lone Star State isn’t the lightest shade of blue on even the most hopeful Democrat’s map. But Richard Murray, the political science professor at University of Houston who conducts the school’s presidential poll, said the factors helping Clinton in Arizona and North Carolina do so in Texas, too.

Clinton has the support of nearly two-thirds of the state’s Hispanic voters, who have swelled voter ranks since the 2012 election. And Trump’s comments and alleged actions toward women have chilled his support among typically conservative, college-educated white women in the Houston and Dallas suburbs, Murray said.

“Donald Trump is so off the charts, he’s wiped out 20 years of (GOP) outreach not only to Latinos, but Texas’ growing Asian vote,” Murray said. “Given the voting we’re seeing, Clinton will run within five percentage points of Trump. That is, if she loses.”


Follow Thomas Beaumont on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tombeaumont


Want to chart your own path along the Road to 270? Figure out how Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can get the Electoral College votes they’ll need to win the White House with AP’s interactive map: http://elections.ap.org/content/road-270-0

U.S. Politics

Understanding ‘Clintipathy’: A Pathological Hatred of the Clintons

President Bill Clinton with First Lady Hillary Clinton during the Congressional Medal of Freedom ceremony in the east room of the White house. Picture taken Wednesday, August 11, 1999. (AP Photo/Virginian-Pilot, LAWRENCE JACKSON)

Lawrence Jackson—AP |President Bill Clinton with First Lady Hillary Clinton during the Congressional Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White house in Washington on Aug. 11, 1999.


One part totally rational; one part sexist and unfair

News of the FBI’s investigation of more Hillary Clinton emails isn’t just a bombshell—it’s a guided missile to her Achilles heel: her trust gap with the American people. And these assaults on her integrity are partially reasonable and partially unfair. Twenty years of irrational Clinton-bashing has shrunk popular trust in Hillary Clinton but in their Shakespearean relationship with the American people, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s moral blindspot has often justified some of the doubts.

Since the 1990s, Bill and Hillary Clinton have faced what we can call “Clintipathy“—a pathological hatred for them rooted in their roles as symbols of the Hippie Sixties and Yuppie Eighties. Hillary Clinton has benefited from many of the changes she and her peers initiated in making America more open, more egalitarian, more critical, more liberal. But as such a lightning rod, she’s made herself and her fellow cultural revolutionaries polarizing figures.

Old-fashioned sexism compounds this culture clash. Despite all her achievements, Hillary Clinton still faces many of the double standards imposed on women. Donald Trump—and Bill Clinton—often get away with half-truths and outright embellishments, enjoying a kind of hall pass reserved for roguish but charming football team captains. Meanwhile, many hold Mrs. Clinton to higher standards, treating her unfairly as the schoolmarmish, substitute teacher.

At the same time, if paranoids can have enemies, just because the Clintons have antagonists doesn’t mean they’re innocent. Hillary Clinton is responsible for the email mess and other ethical tangles, too. Given the hostility, she should have avoided even appearances of impropriety. But, it seems the very scrutiny she wanted to avoid led her into this moral chasm with her private server. Hillary Clinton seems to have been so traumatized by all the revelations in the 1990s, from publicizing the Clintons’ finances to exposing so many sexual intimacies during the Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones scandals, that when she became Secretary of State she sought to preserve her “zone of privacy.” Tragically, Secretary Clinton’s very desire not to have Judicial Watch and other opponents peer into every interaction caused the shoddy behavior that has us all poring over exponentially more of her exchanges.

Beyond this self-destructive paranoia, the Clintons have cut corners elsewhere, conveying a sense of entitlement, then lying about it. When caught, they have often justified their lapses with a characteristically Boomer self-righteousness, demanding absolution by invoking their idealism. Alice Roosevelt Longworth said President Warren Harding wasn’t a bad man, just a slob; the Clintons have been slobs, too. The march of mini-scandals in the White House was exhausting: the Whitewater financial shenanigans; the cover up after the Travel Office firings; the documents flying out of Vince Foster’s office following his suicide; the mysteriously reappearing Rose Law Firm billing records; the crass push for cash in 1996 which elicited shady Chinese and Indonesian donations; the lies about Bill Clinton’s sexual affairs; and the final outrages of too many unseemly presidential pardons and too much furniture shipped from the White House to their two new homes. Each scandal was not as terrible as opponents tried to make it but not as benign as the Clintons claimed.

Remember those moral missteps. Throw in the undeniable—and you can’t deny it, even if you want to—sexism. Now take the email fiasco. Add zealous enemies functioning in our time of an hysterical, polarizing blogosphere and deeply partisan divisions. Suddenly—voila!—this combustible environment perceives minor ethical twitches like major crimes.

If politicians could undergo soul scans, the evidence would probably show that Bill Clinton and Donald Trump lie more frequently and convincingly than Hillary Clinton. As a Methodist good girl who is neither a natural politician nor a bluffing businessman she doesn’t lie well. Despite Trump’s calling her “the most corrupt candidate ever,” her transgressions don’t rank with the bribery and sweetheart-deal-making that was common in 19th-century political parties—or on New York construction sites in the Seventies and Eighties. Democrats who deem her blameless and Republicans who brand her a master criminal both exaggerate. Such absolutes confuse voters, who must judge her lapses in context, proportionally, deciding how relevant such past behaviors are in determining what kind of president she—or her opponent—will be.

U.S. Politics

Report: Manafort Faked Plane Problem to Get Trump to Avoid Picking Christie for VP


Image result for paul manafort



According to New York Post, Donald Trump came very close picking New Jersey governor Chris Christie for his running mate, but his campaign manager intervened before the mogul made his choice.

Christie was Trump’s rival before backing his White House run, and he stood next to Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich as the mogul’s top choices for vice-president. According to the Post, Christie was Trump’s tentative first choice, even though numerous top aides were more in favor of Pence.

“Trump cares about who’s the most loyal and who kisses his a** the most, not who’s the most qualified and what’s the best political decision,” said the Post‘s unnamed source. “If it was up to him, it would have been Christie.”

Paul Manafort was still running the Trump campaign during this period, and it would seem he orchestrated events so that Trump would meet with Pence. Back in July, Manafort reportedly told Trump that his plane was having a malfunction that would require them to stay in Indianapolis overnight, which led to an unscheduled dinner with the Indiana governor.

“Trump had wanted Christie, but Bridgegate would have been the biggest national story,” another source said. “He’d lose the advantage of not being corrupt.”

Reports at the time suggested that Trump went through a period of great uncertainty and reluctance about choosing Pence for his number two spot. Nonetheless, the Post reports that Trump called Christie after his dinner with Pence, and told the governor about his decision.

U.S. Politics

Fox’s Jeanine Pirro: Comey Disgraced And Politicized The FBI


Hell must have frozen over because I actually agree with something Fox’s wingnut “judge” Jeanine Pirro had to say. I disagree with her about whether or not Clinton should have been indicted, but she’s actually right when it comes to Comey politicizing the FBI.

Here’s more on her latest rant from Fox’s blog:

Saturday on Justice, Judge Jeanine Pirro said that FBI Director James Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress notifying them of the discovery of further email evidence in the probe into Hillary Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information “disgraces and politicizes” the bureau.

“[This] is symptomatic of all that is wrong in Washington,” she said.

“One of the most revered agencies in our nation’s history–now seen as putting its finger on the scales of justice–should not now be front and center,” Pirro said, “You know I support Donald Trump and want him to win, but whether it’s Hillary Clinton or anyone else, Comey’s actions violate not only longstanding Justice Department policy…but the most fundamental rules of fairness and impartiality.”

Pirro discussed her own similar situation involving the DOJ: In 2006, she ran on the Republican/Conservative/Independent ticket for New York State Attorney General.

“In the home stretch of a statewide campaign, the Justice Department and the FBI violated their own policy against making public statements that could affect an election, and announced to the press they were opening an investigation of me,” she said.

“It was mean-spirited and nothing came of it, except the adverse publicity cost me at the polls.”

Regarding Clinton’s case, Pirro said that if Comey administered a thorough investigation, “we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“Hillary Clinton should have been indicted a long time ago–she and Bill’s scandals have done nothing but soil our nation’s image,” she said.

By Heather

U.S. Politics

How Much Do ‘October Surprises’ Move The Polls?

Former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner in New York in 2013 |RICHARD DREW / AP


People are already calling it an “October surprise” — an unexpected moment late in the campaign that could change the trajectory of the election. The news that the FBI is looking into a new batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails (found on the computer of Anthony Weiner) is certainly surprising. And it came in October. But it will take several days to measure its effect on the race, and the real surprise would be a wild swing in the polls. That’s because even the most memorable October surprises of recent history weren’t the game-changers they’re sometimes portrayed to be.

There’s no official list of October surprises, a term that is loosely defined, but I chose six events from past campaigns that would seem to meet the definition, using the benefit of hindsight.

President Lyndon Johnson announces a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam on Oct. 31, 1968, leading to peace talks.

Polling average the week before: Richard Nixon +3.

Polling average in the final week: Nixon +1.

Result: Nixon +1.

Vice President Humphrey couldn’t unify the Democratic base, largely because Johnson, who had escalated the increasingly polarizing Vietnam War, was so unpopular. Johnson’s bombing halt is sometimes referred to as the “first” October surprise, and so you might expect it to have had a clear effect on the polls. The truth, though, is more muddled. Although Nixon had held a large lead through most of October, it was down to just 3 percentage points even before Johnson’s announcement. The polls moved towards Humphrey by another 2 points after the announcement. That’s not nothing, but it wasn’t enough.

News breaks on Nov. 2, 2000, that George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving in 1976.

Polling average before: George W. Bush +4.

Final polling average: Bush +3.

Result: Al Gore +1. (But Bush wins in the Electoral College.)

Bush, a born-again Christian, was running as a compassionate conservativewith the heavy backing of evangelical Christians. There was talk that the DWI news, coming five days before the election, would erode Bush’s support among members of this key voting bloc. But it’s not entirely clear what impact Bush’s driving record had on the race. Bush underperformed national polls conducted the week before the news broke. And Karl Rove, Bush’s chief campaign strategist, believes it may have cost Bush 2 percentage points nationally. That’s certainly possible; from the week before the DWI news to the final polls, Bush lost about 1 percentage point off his margin over Gore. Gore, of course, won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College. If the DWI was the cause of the late Gore polling bump — and of Gore outperforming his polls on Election Day — it very nearly cost Bush the election.

Osama Bin Laden releases a video tape on Oct. 29, 2004, talking about the U.S. election.

Polling average before: Bush +3.

Final polling average: Bush +2.

Result: Bush +2.

Bin Laden ridiculed Bush in the tape, but also said it didn’t really matter whether Bush or John Kerry were elected. At the time, there were argumentsabout which candidate would benefit from the tape — Bush, because he was running as the national-security candidate, or Kerry, who could remind people that Bin Laden had not been caught. Months later, Kerry said the tape had clearly benefited Bush, and said the tape had a noticeable effect on Kerry’s polling. But the public polls showed little impact from the tape. The national polls conducted before the tape was released were very predictive of the final result. The final polls in 2004 (after the tape’s release) were about as accurate as they’ve ever been.

The stock market suffers large losses the week starting Oct. 6, 2008.

Polling average before: Barack Obama +6.

Final polling average: Obama +8.

Result: Obama +7.

There can be little doubt that the economy hurt Republican John McCain’s chances of winning the 2008 election. Indeed, there were so many bad economic developments — from the Lehman Brothers collapse in mid-September to the $700 billion bailout of the financial system on Oct. 3 — that you could choose any of these moments as a September or October surprise. The key thing to remember, though, is that the economy was struggling through most of 2008, as indicated by a rising unemployment rate; the recession, it later turned out, actually began in December 2007. That’s why it shouldn’t be too surprising Obama held a consistent lead after wrapping up the Democratic nomination in June (with the exception of a short McCain surge immediately following the Republican convention). Whatever effect the crashing economy had on the election seems to have mostly been baked in by early October.

Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012.

Polling average before: Obama +1

Final polling average: Obama +1

Result: Obama +4

Some pundits, mostly on the right, had confidently predicted Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election, and when he did not, a few blamed Sandy, pointing to a rally-around-the-flag effect for Obama after the superstorm made landfall. The theory makes some sense, and Obama did do better than the polls before Sandy indicated he would. But the final result was also better than his post-Sandy polls. That suggests the polls were simply off, rather than any sizable effect from Sandy. Obama held a small lead before and after Sandy hit. In the swing states, the polls were consistent in showing an Obama edge. They were also pretty consistent in the states that were directly affected by Sandy.

The hostage crisis in Iran remains unresolved in the final weeks of the 1980 presidential election.

This was the surprise that never really happened. For months, Ronald Reagan had warned that President Jimmy Carter would try to create an October surprise by freeing the hostages held by Iran’s revolutionary government since November 1979. But talks with Iran stalled, and the hostages were not freed until after Reagan’s inauguration. (Allegations later emerged that Reagan’s team had secretly negotiated with Iran to delay the release, but repeated investigations never turned up proof of the charge. Even if the allegations were true, there’s no sign Carter lost ground because of them.)

The hostage crisis initially caused a rally-around-the-flag effect in late 1979 — Carter’s popularity surged. By late 1980, however, as the crisis dragged on with apparently no end in sight, it only added to Carter’s campaign woes. Carter clearly did worse in the election than he was doing in the polling before negotiations broke down, but there was a lot going on late in the 1980 campaign, making it hard to attribute Reagan’s performance to any single event. Carter and Reagan, for example, held only one debate, and it was only after the debate that Reagan’s standing jumped, and even then the polls underestimated his final margin of victory. The final polling average for Reagan was +3, but he won the election by 10 points.

Some of the October surprises listed above (the halt in bombing in North Vietnam and Bush’s DWl) appeared to have a modest effect on the polls. Others, less so. All told, these surprises moved the polls — from the week before to the final week — about 1 or 2 percentage points, on average. None of the surprises on this list moved the polls by more than 2 points.

Again, this isn’t a full list, but it makes sense that late campaign news would have a limited impact. The later in a campaign an external shock occurs, the more voters have already made up their mind and the more impressions of the candidates are fixed. October surprises, in other words, may have less of an effect because they come in October.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the 2016 presidential race is decided. Clinton currently has a national polling lead of about 5 points, according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast. In three of the campaigns listed here (1980, 2000 and 2012), the final polling average was off by 3 percentage points or more. Even if the polls don’t move, they could just be wrong.

Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.


U.S. Politics



Associated Press

Savages FBI Chief’s ‘Double Standard’… Says Comey Has ‘Explosive’ Info About Trump Team’s Ties To Russian Government… Vague Announcement Risks Tipping Down-Ballot Odds In GOP’s Favor… Kaine To Comey: Have You Even Seen New Emails?… FBI LEAKY: Now They’re Going After Clinton Foundation… Senate Dems: Clear This Up By Monday…

U.S. Politics

Joy Reid scorches the Comey FBI for getting ‘weaponized’ in the GOP’s ‘ugly gambit’ to stop Clinton

Joy Reid photo via Facebook

Joy Reid photo via Facebook


In a Saturday editorial for the Daily Beast, MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid took the FBI and its director James Comey to task for allowing themselves to be “weaponized” by the Republican Party and used to try and hamstring a presidential candidate.

“Behind Comey’s defiance of both precedent and the guidance of his boss, the attorney general, was the subtext of intense pressure being put on the FBI and the Justice Department by Republicans, some of whom rushed Comey’s vague letter to members of the press,” Reid wrote.

Reid said that Republicans have wasted a tremendous amount of time and taxpayer money trying to “investigate” their way into blocking Hillary Clinton from the White House.

“Comey disappointed Republicans in July by not going along with what would have been a highly unusual indictment of a public official given the facts of Clinton’s email use, Republicans responded by dragging him before Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s House Oversight committee. Donald Trump called for Comey himself to be investigated,” she said.

“Republicans including Chafftez eagerly tweeted out Comey’s news Friday, and Trump supporters (and some media outlets) ran with the erroneous claim that the FBI had ‘reopened’ its Clinton email probe (it never closed it) and that the agency is revisiting its decision not to prosecute Clinton over her email server (there’s exactly zero evidence of that),” Reid said. “And since Republicans have openly signaled that they plan ‘years of investigations’ of Clinton should she win on November 8th, it’s not hard to see where this is going. They’re hoping this new ‘revelation’ sinks Clinton, but expecting to use the faux scandal to drag her down over the next four years. “

Anyone who remembers the 90s will remember this pattern and the role the Republicans played in obstructing and attempting to impeach President Bill Clinton.

“The point of the many ‘gates’ — Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater and Lewinskygate — was never to advance public policy, or to hold the president and administration accountable to the American people,” Reid said. “They were a naked grab for power by means outside the electoral process.”

“There’s simply nothing on the other side of the aisle that’s equivalent. When they took back Congress in 2006, for example, Democrats didn’t pursue probes of the Bush White House, even given the lies that led to the Iraq war, and the discovery of warrantless wiretapping and other abuses of civil liberties,” she said.

 “The abuse of congressional power for pure partisan gain has become a specialty of the GOP,” Reid wrote.
She concluded, “After the election, should this ugly gambit fail, be assured Republicans will use every ounce of their time and authority to take the meager gifts the bumbling FBI director has given them and put them to use in service of the next election. The people’s work be damned.”
David Ferguson
U.S. Politics

World exclusive: Bob Dylan – I’ll be at the Nobel Prize ceremony… if I can

Bob Dylan was announced as the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature - but then removed mention of it from his website

Bob Dylan was announced as the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature – but then removed mention of it from his website


By Edna Gundersen

“Isn’t that something…?” Bob Dylan isn’t exactly making a big deal out of being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But at least the 1960s trailblazer is finally acknowledging his becoming the first musician to be granted admission to the world’s most elite literary club.

When I ask him about his reaction to hearing the news a fortnight ago that he is to follow in the footsteps of George Bernard Shaw, TS Eliot, Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, Günter Grass, Ernest Hemingway and Harold Pinter, I have no idea what to expect.

Dylan, now 75, is on tour in Oklahoma, and we had been due to discuss his new exhibition of artworks, depicting iconic images of American landscapes and urban scenes, which opens to the public at the Halcyon Gallery on London’s New Bond Street next week.

A previously unseen photograph of Bob Dylan
A previously unseen photograph of Bob Dylan CREDIT: KEN REGAN: ELLIOTT LANDY/REDFERNS

Since it was announced he had been chosen by the Swedish Academy to receive the Nobel, Dylan has made no public reference at all to it, save for a fleeting mention on his own website that was deleted within 24 hours.

More than that, he has also reportedly refused to pick up the phone to speak to representatives of the Nobel committee.

They apparently remain in the dark about whether he will be attending the ceremony on December 10, when he will receive a cheque for £750,000 from King Carl VI Gustaf.

Bob Dylan

Well, I can put them out of their misery. For when I ask about his Nobel, Dylan is all affability. Yes, he is planning to turn up to the awards ceremony in Stockholm. “Absolutely,” he says. “If it’s at all possible.”

And as he talks, he starts to sound pretty pleased about becoming a Nobel laureate. “It’s hard to believe,” he muses.

His name has been mentioned as on the shortlist for a number of years, but the announcement was certainly not expected. When he was first told, it was, Dylan confides, “amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?”

In which case, I can’t help but ask, why the long public silence about what it means? Jean-Paul Sartre famously declined the award in 1964, but Dylan has these past weeks seemed intent on simply refusing to acknowledge its existence, so much so that one of the normally tight-lipped Nobel committee labelled him “impolite and arrogant”.

For his part, Dylan sounds genuinely bemused by the whole ruckus. It is as if he can’t quite fathom where all the headlines have come from, that others have somehow been over-reacting.

Couldn’t he just have taken the calls from the Nobel Committee?

Bob Dylan
‘You can carry a sketchbook anywhere,’ says Dylan

“Well, I’m right here,” he says playfully, as if it was simply a matter of them dialling his number, but he offers no further explanation.

It is over a quarter of a century since I first interviewed Bob Dylan. That was back in 1989, and he started off so reticent that he was monosyllabic.

When I asked him a question about the 1960s, he snapped at me. What I did then was start over and ask all the same questions again. It worked. We ended up doing a two-and-a-half hour interview.

If there is one thing I have learned about him over the years, and the several interviews he has granted me, it is that he always does the unexpected.

Bob Dylan has never made a secret of the fact that he doesn’t like the media. It is two years since he last spoke to a journalist. He does it his way.

So, for all the speculation over the last two weeks about the reasons behind his blanket silence on the Nobel award, I can only say that he is a radical personality – which is why he has remained of so much interest to us over six decades since he first emerged on the Manhattan music scene in 1962 – and cannot be tied down, even by the Nobel Prize committee.

In interviews over the years, the famously unpredictable Dylan has been by turns combative, amiable, taciturn, philosophical, charismatic, caustic and cryptic.

He has seemed intent, most of all, on being fiercely private and frustratingly unknowable. Hence his apparent toying with the Nobel committee cannot be said to have come entirely out of the blue.

Perhaps it is just that he has grown casual about garlands that would send the rest of us into orbit, as he has received so many in the course of his long career in the spotlight, since songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin’ became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

Among many others, he has received a Special Citation Pulitzer (2008), the National Medal of Arts (2009), Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012), as well as France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1990) and the Légion d’Honneur (2013).

Bob Dylan

Dylan has received many awards during his long career

So does he agree with the Nobel committee, I ask, that his songs belong alongside great works of literature? Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, for example, has linked Dylan’s contribution to literature with the writers of ancient Greece.

“If you look back, far back, 2,500 years or so,” she has said, “you discover Homer and Sappho, and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, they were meant to be performed, often together with instruments, and it’s the same way with Bob Dylan. But we still read Homer and Sappho… and we enjoy it, and same thing with Bob Dylan. He can be read, and should be read.”

Bob Dylan
A new exhibition of Dylan’s artworks opens at London’s Halcyon Gallery in November