Top Trumpster, son promote demented conspiracy theory

Crab pizza from Comet Ping Pong. Photo (cc) 2009 by cometstarmoon.
Crab pizza from Comet Ping Pong. Photo (cc) 2009 by cometstarmoon.

Donald Trump’s national-security adviser, Mike Flynn, and Flynn’s son are promoting a demented conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton and pedophilia that led directly to the arrest of a man who fired an assault rifle in a DC pizza shop on Sunday. The Washington Post reports.

Flynn Sr. is not subject to Senate confirmation.

Over the weekend Josh Marshall reported on Twitter that, just before Election Day, Flynn tweeted out a story from a fake-news site called True Pundit claiming that emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer contained evidence that Clinton was involved in “money laundering, child exploitation, sex crimes with minors (children), perjury, pay to play through Clinton Foundation, obstruction of justice, and other felony crimes.”

Flynn Jr., meanwhile, provided oxygen to an offshoot of that deranged theory—namely, that the Washington pizza shop, Comet Ping Pong, is, as Politico put it, “a front for a child sex ring led by Clinton.” This nuttiness has its own Twitter hashtag, #pizzagate.

Politico also describes Flynn Jr. as someone who “has served as his father’s adviser.”

Did I mention that Flynn Sr. is not subject to Senate confirmation? I did? Just checking.

In case you were wondering, the alleged shooter at Comet Ping Pong, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, apparently wanted to see the tunnels where Clinton and her dastardly conspirators carry out their evil deeds.

God help us.

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Trump to Times: Eh, I didn’t mean any of it

Climate change? Never mind. Lock her up? Didn’t mean it. Torture? I don’t think that anymore.

The big takeaway from Donald Trump’s interview with the New York Times was how casually he walked away from some of the most caustic things he said during the campaign. If there’s a more striking example of a politician admitting that he essentially lied about everything to get elected, I’m not aware of it.

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Yes, media could have done better. No, it wasn’t their fault.

Photo (cc) 2016 by Dan Kennedy
Photo (cc) 2016 by Dan Kennedy

The media, for all their faults, did not elect Donald Trump. His supporters knew exactly what they were doing. They heard it all—the racism, the misogyny, the personal attacks, the Russia connection, Trump University, and on and on and on. And they decided they’d rather vote for a bomb-thrower than continue with the status quo.

On this day of all days, I am loath to cite polling as a way of explaining anything. But as Bill Schneider wrote for Reuters, exit polls revealed that only 38 percent of voters believed Trump was qualified to be president, compared to 52 percent for Hillary Clinton. What does that tell you?

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Prediction time

Hillary Clinton has been ahead by about four points in the polls. My guess is that she’ll actually win by around six points, based on two factors.

First, she’s on the upswing, and was even before FBI director James Comey said, uh, never mind. Second, by all accounts she has an incredibly strong get-out-the-vote effort and Donald Trump has nothing.

No prediction on the Electoral College except that it won’t be close. And the Democrats will narrowly regain the Senate.

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How the media blew the 2016 presidential campaign

Photo (cc) 2015 by brunosuras.
Photo (cc) 2015 by brunosuras.

Maybe none of it mattered. Maybe the media’s widely derided coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign had little effect on where we stand days before this horror show comes to its merciful conclusion.

Consider: A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll released Friday evening showed Clinton with a four-point lead—identical to President Obama’s margin of victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. As New York Times columnist David Brooks said Friday on the PBS NewsHour, “Everyone is dividing based on demographic categories. And, sometimes, you get the sense that the campaign barely matters. People are just going with their gene pool and whatever it is.”

But even if voting patterns are largely preordained in this hyperpolarized era, that’s no reason to let the media off the hook. Journalists have an indispensable role in our political system. They have a responsibility to provide us with the information we need to govern ourselves in a democratic society. And they have let us down.

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Bad news for Hillary Clinton: ‘Carlos Danger’ is back

Anthony Weiner during his New York mayoral campaign. Photo (cc) by Azi Paybarah.
Anthony Weiner during his New York mayoral campaign. Photo (cc) by Azi Paybarah.

At a time when no one knows anything about the latest Hillary Clinton email story beyond the cryptic letter that FBI Director James Comey sent to Congress last week, I decided that the best way to research this piece was to pour a glass of wine, grab some Halloween candy, and watch Weiner, a documentary released a few months ago.

I didn’t learn anything about the emails. But I did gain some insight, at least superficially, into the marriage between disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, the top Clinton aide whose emails were reportedly found on her estranged husband’s computer.

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The state of the Clinton email investigation

Based on what we know so far, FBI Director James Comey’s bombshell letter is likely to lead to very little. Having upended the election campaign with just days to go, Comey owes it to the public to tell us exactly what the FBI knows as soon as possible.

Here’s what we seem to know: Clinton and her top aide, Huma Abedin, exchanged emails (now, there’s a big surprise, eh?). Some of those ended up on devices used by Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, because they shared a computer.

It is already well established that Clinton used a private email account for her official business, that she showed bad judgment in doing so, but that she did not commit a crime. Somewhere between many and all of the newly discovered emails may be duplicates that the FBI has already looked at.

There is nothing new here—just more evidence of what a mistake Clinton made in not using her State Department email account. For one thing, sensitive emails can end up in the hands of someone like Weiner.

Update: Jane Mayer of the New Yorker weighs in with essential reading on Comey’s decision to go public.

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