US MIDTERMS – Recounts, The Florida Problem And Media Role

|JON ALLSOP, CJR|AIWA! NO!|News anchors said those words on election night in 2000, as networks reversed their early call that the Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, would carry the state of Florida and thus the White House. They could have been speaking this week. Florida once again finds itself in tense recount territory, with three statewide races, including crucial Senate and gubernatorial contests, yet to be called a full week after residents went to the polls. This time, doubt has been cast on apparent Republican victories: for Rick Scott in the US Senate race, and for Ron DeSantis in the battle to succeed Scott as governor.
 
GOP operatives have aggressively pushed the message that their candidates have won—just as they did in 2000. “The effort that Mr. Scott and Republican allies are waging today is strikingly similar to [the] multifront war in 2000 led by the George W. Bush campaign and an army of party consultants,” Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman write in The New York Times. Among other similarities, “surrogates for the Republican candidate are holding news conference calls with journalists and sitting for interviews on cable, blaming the Democrats for tarnishing the integrity of the electoral process.”
 
The press is used to partisan warring over recount narratives. But our current media climate is very different to 2000. In the past two years, in particular, baseless claims of widespread voter fraud have become a common right-wing trope, percolating into mainstream discourse via coordinated online campaigns. In the run-up to the midterms, hackneyed conspiracies—that Democrats would bus in illegal immigrants to vote, for instance, or that George Soros funds voting machines—swirled on social media. This past week, they’ve crystallized into more specific lies. Far-right internet personalities and trolls have claimed (with varying degrees of embellishment) that crooked Florida election officials have magicked up boxes of Democratic votes since polling day, among other dirty tricks.
 
Recounts have always posed a problem for 24-hour news cycles. They become big stories because of their uncertainty, but uncertainty means a paucity of hard facts. TV news shows, in particular, thus have to find something else to fill their airtime. Centering the spin of establishment politicians is bad enough. This time, outlets have also had to contend with the incendiary interventions of President Trump, whose tweets accusing Democrats of trying to “STEAL” the Florida elections through “massively infected” ballots themselves reflect online conspiracy theories, as BuzzFeed’s Jane Lytvynenko and Kevin Collier show.
 
As the Florida recount has ground slowly on, media organizations have done a progressively better job of using the wait time to contextualize and debunk baseless rhetoric. (Some, like BuzzFeed, have cited reputable studies showing US voter fraud in general to be “vanishingly rare.”) Nonetheless—as with so much that Trump gives a megaphone—the media as a whole has yet to find a consistent, foolproof way of reporting the president’s falsehoods and unproven allegations without lending them an air of credibility. Toronto Star Washington correspondent Daniel Dale flagged a series of headlines and tweets that gave oxygen to Trump’s charges. After ABC News tweeted Trump’s “massively infected” line, Dale responded: “Three years into the Trump era, mainstream media outlets continue to blast out his lies to millions of people without pointing out they’re not true.”
 
Below, more on the still-not-finished midterm elections:

  • Unprecedented in recent history: The Tampa Bay Times’ Kirby Wilson wraps some useful context around the Florida recounts, which experts say are unlikely to reverse the results. Of the 26 statewide elections to go to a recount since 2000, only three have flipped, and those races all involved finer margins to begin with.
     
  • Old news! Donald Trump, Jr., got in on the misinformation act in memorable fashion yesterday, tweeting an article from NBC Miami that he said showed 200,000 Florida voters may not be US citizens. A note editors appended to the original article yesterday speaks for itself: “This story was published in May 2012. The initial list of 180,000 names was whittled to 2,625, according to the Florida Department of State… An Aug. 1, 2012, state elections document showed only 85 noncitizens were ultimately removed from the rolls out of a total of about 12 million voters at that time.”
     
  • Wave new world: A week on from the midterms, commentators still can’t decide whether the results qualify as a “blue wave” or not. The AP’s Steve Peoples comes down on the “not” side; but, he writes, “a week after the voting, Democrats are riding higher than they thought on election night.”
     
  • Meanwhile, in Arizona: Democratic optimism was further fueled by yesterday’s news out of Arizona, where Kyrsten Sinema was finally confirmed as the state’s new senator, beating out Republican Martha McSally. The drawn-out count was calmer than in Florida, despite Trump’s attempts to undermine it. Over the weekend, Arizona’s Republican secretary of state even published a blog post explaining the delay.
     
  • “A dangerous problem”: The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan says the media’s rush for firm electoral conclusions does more harm than good. “By giving in to the impulse to analyze immediately, journalists and pundits feed the notion that the election should be over on election night,” she writes. “Hard as it is to do—or even consider—in our crazily speeded-up news environment, there’s only one lesson for the media from the past week: Slow the hell down.”
     
  • Doing it all again: Tonight, CNN will broadcast a second election-night special (one week after its first) to update viewers on the shifting midterms picture.

BRITAIN; ‘Vassal state’… ‘a betrayal’… Brexiteers react to May’s deal

Leading Brexiteers have launched ferocious attacks on Theresa May’s reported Brexit deal, accusing her of “a betrayal of the Union” and calling for a Cabinet mutiny.

|MATT WITHERS, THE NEW EUROPEAN|

AIWA! NO!|A deal has been reached by negotiators in Brussels and go before a crunch Cabinet meeting tomorrow.But the hardline Leavers in May’s party have already pounced on her before it has even been published, urging Cabinet members to reject it.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said he would vote against the deal, claiming it was “vassal state stuff” and urged the Cabinet to “chuck it out”.

He said he expected the deal to be “pretty much” what had been agreed a few week ago “we are going to stay in the customs union on this deal, we are going to stay effectively in large parts of the single market and that means it’s vassal state stuff”.

He told the BBC: “For the first time in a thousand years, this place, this Parliament, will not have a say over the laws that govern this country. It is a quite incredible state of affairs.”

He added “I don’t see how you can support it from a democratic point of view, I don’t see how unionists can support it, and I don’t see how you can support it if you believe in the economic and political freedom of this country.”

He claimed the deal was “making a nonsense of Brexit so I hope the Cabinet will do the right thing and I hope they chuck it out”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the pro-hard Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs, said the reported deal represented a betrayal of Theresa May’s promise to maintain the integrity of the United Kingdom.

“White flags have gone up all over Whitehall. It is a betrayal of the Union,” he said.

“If what we have heard is true, this fails to meet the Conservative Party manifesto and it fails to meet many of the commitments that the prime minister makes.

“It would keep us in the customs union and de facto the single market. This is the vassal state.

“It is a failure of the government’s negotiating position, it is a failure to deliver on Brexit and it is potentially dividing up the United Kingdom.

“It is very hard to see any reason why the Cabinet should support Northern Ireland being ruled from Dublin.”

Former party leader and Brexit hardliner Iain Duncan Smith warned that if reports of the deal’s contents were true the Government was “breaking their own agreed position and will be bringing back something that is untenable”.

He added that “if the Cabinet agrees it, the party certainly won’t”.

Asked if the Government’s days were numbered he said: “If this is the case almost certainly, yes.

“Because they are in real trouble if they bring back something that is unacceptable to the party.

“The Government puts itself in an impossible position, because they are trying to promote something they themselves said they would never promote. And that makes it impossible.

“How can you ask the party to vote for something which you yourself as prime minister and the Cabinet said they would never ever allow?”

Brexit at last or is it?

brexit latest
Brexit latest: Boris Johnson has launched an astonishing attack on Theresa May(Image: GETTY )

Brexit: the storm makes land

|GARY GIBBON, CHANNEL 4 NEWS|

AIWA! NO!|We have two documents in Downing Street being read tonight: the Withdrawal Agreement (500 pages or so) and the outline political declaration (some four pages or so).
That tells you how much work is still to be done in working out the future relationship. The negotiators haven’t even been able to hand in half their homework. The EU always said it would be like this. Brexiteers sometimes suggested the whole thing – settling the past and mapping the future – could be set out and agreed by now.

There is talk that the plans laid out for the U.K. wide temporary customs arrangement could operate like a sliding scale. You want truly friction-less trade? You have to go for extra rules from Brussels which have a single market flavour. So if you don’t do that, the logic runs, and go for something a little more light touch, that leaves Northern Ireland more subject to checks with east/west trade across the Irish Sea. This might look to some Brexiteers like an EU plan to suck the U.K. into its magnetic and regulatory orbit. And it will look to the DUP, who are sounding very war-like this evening, like the kind of betrayal they were complaining about in the letter to Theresa May – which The Times got its hands on last week.

Ministers now have the challenge of making sense of the detail while not being allowed to take the documents away from No 10. If they choose to resign do they go big picture or hit on a detail? Or do they, as happened at Chequers, go along with sullenly only to walk out a couple of days later?

The storm that has been out at sea for months has started making land. Theresa May has decided this is as good as it gets in the time available. If she can bring the Cabinet onside without major casualties she will take it to the country and her MPs and the Commission will take it to the member states. There will be pained faces and arguments for changes to the text amongst the EU27. There will be much hotter discourse here and it started with a vengeance as the news flashed up of a “technical deal.”

The ERG leadership is deploying lines about betrayal that must box those using them into a rebellion if we get to a Commons vote you would think. And if the DUPs rhetoric is a guide to its actions, inflicting defeat would be like pushing over a house of cards.

But this is day one and the vote, if we get there, could be end of November or beginning of December under government plans.

PRESIDENT Trump mocked by French Soldiers for ducking First World War Cemetery centenary visit in Paris because of ‘rain’

‘There’s rain but it’s not serious,’ army tweets alongside photo of soldier crawling on ground.

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|French army mocks US President for skipping visit to First World War cemetery in Paris due to rain in hilarious tweet.

The French army has joined the outpouring of criticism over Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a visit to a First World War cemetery because of “poor weather”, after posting a tweet mocking the president.

A post on the army’s official Twitter account shows a soldier crawling on the ground in the rain, accompanied by the caption: “#MondayMotivation. There’s rain but it’s not serious. We’re staying motivated.”

In response to the tweet, many users added to the ridicule of Mr Trump.

“Our courageux président is ready for your obstacle…as soon as it stops raining!” one person wrote.

US PRESIDENT Trump Spent the WW1 Armistice Centenary weekend in Europe, and in a foul mood too after his dreams for a grand military parade evaporated

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our interests first; who cares about the others?’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.”
|AIWA! NO!|US PRESIDENT Trump spent the weekend in France, skipping World War I commemoration events and apparently sulking in front of the television, instead of enjoying the grand military parade he’d once envisioned for himself.

The president was dazzled last year by the 2017 Bastille Day parade in Paris, and he notified defense officials he wanted a display like that for Veterans Day the following year, reported CNN.

But military officials balked at the nearly $100 million cost, and eventually persuaded the president he needed to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end with other world leaders.

The solemn events he found in Paris were more stately than spectacular, and he sent a series of tweets grousing about vote recounts back in the U.S. and blaming massive California wildfires on forest management.

World leaders in Paris for World war one centenary
U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of monarchs, princes, presidents, and prime ministers joined French President Emmanuel Macron to mark the moment guns fell silent across Europe a century ago

Trump remained at the U.S. ambassador’s residence Saturday after military and security officials determined cloud cover posed a safety hazard for the president’s Marine One helicopter, but the White House did not have a backup plan in place to get Trump to the Aisne-Marne American cemetery.

The White House declined to say how Trump spent those hours that opened up in his schedule, but the president tweeted that evening he’d had “some very productive meetings and calls for our country today.”

Trump arrived late, and alone, as other world leaders marched shoulder to shoulder down the Champs-Élysées.

The White House cited unspecified “security protocols” for Trump missing out on the event.

French president Emmanuel Macron took a pointed shot at Trump, who bragged ahead of the midterms that he was a “nationalist,” during the ceremony marking the armistice.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our interests first; who cares about the others?’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.”

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump’s HAIR – ‘insane’ reason HE skipped WWI ceremony on rainy day; MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch reveals

President Trump’s hair stood between him and the World War 1 ceremony on Saturday.  Apparently

Donny Deutsch (MSNBC)

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!| MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch isn’t buying any White House excuses for President Donald Trump skipping a visit to a World War I cemetery.

The White House claims Trump’s trip to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial near Paris due to weather, saying military officials concluded a helicopter flight was risky in light rain, but the “Morning Joe” contributor said he knew the real reason why.

“I know this man, and I know this is going to sound insane,” he added. “You know probably the reason? His hair. This is what motivates this man. I’m not trying to be silly here. But it’s the truth. I know this man.”

Image result for trump arrives at ceremony separately
YahooTrump Arrives at Ceremony Separately from Other Leaders After Skipping Previous Event for Rain

Co-host Mika Brzezinski, who also knows Trump, said she agreed.

“Donny, I completely agree, and I know how he is about it,” she said. “I know him, too. I think it’s twofold. I think it’s that, believe it or not, but I also think that he can’t get away from the phone right now, given the potential threat he and some family members may be in.”

France tells Theresa May to FORGET backstop review clause – EU will DECIDE

French Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, has warned the Prime Minister that MPs would not support any deal that would keep Britain locked in a backstop arrangement with Brussels.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live the UK “cannot be held against its will” in a possible customs union with the EU, adding: “It cannot be a decision that can be overturned by the European Union, it must be capable for the United Kingdom to decide to leave that customs arrangement.”

|AIWA! NO|French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau said any decision taken to end the backstop arrangement cannot be made by the United Kingdom alone and must involve the remaining 27 European Union countries.
Brexiteers in Mrs May’s Cabinet have demanded the inclusion of the mechanism that would unilaterally trigger a UK exit from any customs union arrangement in the backstop, the insurance policy to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

EU negotiators rejected this and reportedly told their UK counterparts that the European Court of Justice would have to be involved in the arbitration of any potential mechanism.

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Loiseau rejected the possibility of an independent mechanism being included in the backstop to help the Prime Minister with her domestic negotiations.

The French Europe minister told reporters: “If we end any sort of temporary arrangement this is to be bilateral decision from the EU27 and from the UK at the same time and we have to know in that moment what sort of solution there is for the Irish border.”

Technical-level negotiations will continue between the British and EU teams as they move “closer and closer” to seal a Brexit deal, according to one EU diplomat.

A technical deal is once again within days of conclusion but Mrs May is struggling to win political backing from her Cabinet as further splits emerge in her Conservative Party.

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