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.

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 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.”

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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.”

United States – California wildfires deadliest in history as toll climbs to 31 and 228 reported missing

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

Abandoned cars, scorched by the wildfire, line Pearson Rd in Paradise. Photo / AP

What we know so far:

  • At least 31 people have been killed
  • More than 6,700 structures destroyed
  • 3,000 firefighters are battling the blazes
  • 228 people are reported  missing
  • Among casualties are 6 firefighters

READ RELATED: What we know about California wildfires: 31 deaths, more than 6,700 structures destroyed

As relatives desperately searched shelters for missing loved ones today, crews searching the smoking ruins of Paradise and outlying areas found six more bodies, raising the death toll to 29, matching the deadliest wildfire in state history.

The burned remains of a vehicle and home are seen during the Camp fire in Paradise
The burned remains of a vehicle and home are seen during the Camp fire in Paradise Photo: AFP

Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of the state, with gusty winds expected overnight which will challenge firefighters.

The statewide death toll stood at 31 and appeared certain to rise.

Massive out-of-control wildfires are ripping through California, causing insurmountable destruction and the evacuation of thousands on both ends of the state.

On Saturday, firefighters hoped that a brief lull in howling winds would give them a chance to block, or at least slow, one of two massive wildfires that have killed at least 23 people and caused the evacuations of hundreds of thousands.

Here is how people can help;

California Volunteers: The state-run office manages programs and initiatives helping to increase public service in California. The group has activated for the disasters and has ways for you to help out, whether it be financially, volunteering or with donated goods,  in each of the fires.

American Red CrossThe American Red Cross is helping those in northern and southern California with finding shelter and providing assistance. The organization has listed ways for you to help. If you would like to make a $10 donation, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999.

CCF Wildfire Relief FundThe organization helps provide intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for major California wildfires and has local initiatives to help out those affected by the blaze.

FRENCH PRESIDENT Emmanuel Macron rips nationalism as Trump looks on: ‘Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism’

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‘Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,’ says France’s Emmanuel Macron at World War I commemoration | world news | Hindustan Times

Nearly 70 world leaders travelled to Paris to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
Photo by: Francois Mori
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)

|PARIS; LUKE BAKER, REUTERS|AIWA! NO!| – French President Emmanuel Macron used an address to world leaders gathered in Paris for Armistice commemorations on Sunday to send a stern message about the dangers of nationalism, calling it a betrayal of moral values.

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With U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting just a few feet away listening to the speech via translation earpieces, Macron denounced those who evoke nationalist sentiment to disadvantage others.

“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”

Trump, who has pursued “America First” policies since entering the White House and in the run-up to the congressional elections this month declared himself a “nationalist”, sat still and stony-faced in the front row as Macron spoke.

There was no immediate response from either the White House or the Kremlin to Macron’s comments.

WORLD LEADERS laud fallen soldiers on eve of armistice centennial

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold hands after unveiling a plaque in the Clairiere of Rethondes during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Compiegne, France, November 10, 2018. Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Pool via Reuters

Leaders laud fallen soldiers on eve of armistice centennial

|AIWA! NO!|PARIS — Traveling from across the world to monuments honoring soldiers who fell 100 years ago, victors and vanquished alike marked those sacrifices Saturday ahead of Armistice Day and assessed alliances that have been redrawn dramatically since the dark days of World War I.

The leaders of former enemies France and Germany, in an intimate gesture that underscored their countries’ current roles as guarantors of peace in Europe, held their heads together at the site north of Paris where the defeated Germans and the Allies signed the agreement that ended the 1914-18 war.

After Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly snuggled her head into the neck of French President Emmanuel Macron, the two went inside a replica of the train car where the armistice was reached and put their names in a guestbook. Macron then took Merkel’s hand in his, again highlighting the changes on the continent where two world wars were fought in the 20th century.

“Our Europe has been at peace for 73 years. There is no precedent for it, and it is at peace because we willed it and first and foremost, because Germany and France wanted it,” he said.

Merkel was equally convinced of the power their friendship exudes.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet with veterans at the Clairiere of Rethondes, during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Compiegne, France, November 10, 2018. Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Pool via Reuters

“The will is there, and I say this for Germany with full conviction, to do everything to achieve a more peaceful order in the world even though we know we have very, very much work still ahead of us,” she said.

The open show of affection was a welcome antidote for Macron. Earlier Saturday, the French leader had a somewhat awkward meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. As Air Force One landed in Paris on Friday night, Trump wrote on Twitter he had been “very” insulted by comments Macron made in the days before that he considered anti-American.

A century ago, the entry of U.S. troops into World War I tipped the momentum toward its allies, including France and Britain. Even as he embarked on two days of observances for the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice, Trump said the United States now bears far too much of the burden to defend the West.

A flurry of Armistice-related diplomacy once again turned Paris, the jewel that Germany sought to take in 1914 but which the Allies successfully fought to defend, into the center of global attention Saturday as dozens of world leaders arrived in the French capital on the eve of the solemn centennial commemorations.

A portrait of a soldier is displayed at the Armistice Museum in the Clairiere de Rethondes in Compiegne where the Germans signed the armistice in 1918 that ended the World War One, France, August 30, 2018. Picture taken August 30, 2018.  Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Merkel’s appearance in Compiegne marked how her nation’s bloodstained history with France has become a close alliance that is now the driving force behind the European Union.

In the four years of fighting, remembered for brutal trench warfare and the first use of gas, France, the British empire, Russia and the United States had the main armies opposing a German-led coalition that also included the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires.

Almost 10 million soldiers died. France lost 1.4 million and Germany 2 million.

Yet, despite a war that was supposed to end all wars, World War II pitted both sides against each other once again in 1940.

Across the line that once marked the Western Front, leaders lauded the courage of soldiers who were killed during the unprecedented slaughter, before converging on Paris for a dinner.

The armistice entered into force on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, and on Sunday 69 world leaders will commemorate the centennial of the event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, underneath the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris.

A view shows the table inside the replica of the wagon where the Germans signed the armistice in 1918 that ended the World War One at the Armistice Museum in the Clairiere de Rethondes in Compiegne, France, August 30, 2018.  Picture taken August 30, 2018.   Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

At dawn Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Vimy Ridge, the battlefield in northern France where Canada found its sense of self when it defeated German opposition against the odds.

Standing amid the white headstones against an ashen sky, Trudeau addressed the fallen, saying what Canada has achieved in the past century has been “a history built on your sacrifice. You stand for the values on which Canada was built.”

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UK Prime Minister

@10DowningStreet

PM @Theresa_May and President @EmmanuelMacron laid a wreath of poppies and le bleuet at the Thiepval Memorial.

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In southern Belgium’s Mons, Canadians were also lauding George Price, the last Commonwealth soldier to die in the war when he was shot by a German sniper two minutes before the armistice took effect.

Trump was looking beyond the tragedy of death and destruction, asking in a tweet: “Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?”

After his meeting with Macron, Trump had been scheduled to head to the battlefield of Belleau Wood, 90 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the capital, where U.S. troops had their breakthrough battle by stopping a German push for Paris shortly after entering the war in 1917.

The battle of Belleau Wood proved America’s mettle to allies and foes alike, and by the time the war ended U.S. forces were at least an equal to any of the other major armies, which were exhausted and depleted.

However, Trump canceled his visit because of bad weather and immediately came in for criticism.

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” David Frum, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, tweeted,

The White House sent a delegation that included chief of staff John Kelly in Trump’s place. Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, said the White House should have had a fallback plan for the president.

“There is always a rain option. Always,” Rhodes said.

Trump is scheduled to visit a different U.S. cemetery close to Paris on Sunday.

John Leicester contributed.

US PRESIDENT Trump Knows Fear – At Long Last After Democrats Upset Republicans At Mid- Term

The Senate and House races in Florida have gone to a recount, and Stacey Abrams in Georgia is standing strong against Brian Kemp’s brazen attempts to steal the race in broad daylight. In short, the 2018 midterm elections are not over, but the Democrats fared far better than the early wisdom suggested.

This is what we’ve waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by …

— Nena, “99 Luftballons”

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BEN SARGENT

There is a soul-searing symmetry to the fact that the morning after yet another man with yet another gun slaughtered yet another crowd of people in yet another all-American massacre, a mother who lost her son to gun violence and made that loss her cause of action won her election to Congress.

Six years ago, Jordan Davis was sitting in a car with friends at a Florida gas station when a man named Michael Dunn opened fire on them because he thought the music they were playing was too loud. Davis was killed in the hail of bullets. His mother, Lucy McBath, became a gun-violence activist and joined forces with the Parkland survivors after that nightmare unfolded.

McBath ran for the Georgia 6th House seat this year, and on Thursday morning, her Republican opponent Rep. Karen Handel conceded the race. “For me,” McBath told CNN back in May, “I was looking beyond my own tragedy, looking for the other tragedies that were most definitely going to happen if I didn’t keep talking about this crisis.” The victory marked the 29th House seat picked up by the Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, further cementing their majority control of the chamber.

That is the election, in a nutshell, an amalgam of joy and sorrow. It is inspiring for what did happen and utterly galling for what might have been. Democrats handily won control of the House but lost ground in the Senate, a harrowing fact when one notes that Democratic Senate candidates collectively got 10 million more votes than their Republican opponents. Power in the Senate is further devolving to a hard-right Republican majority who only represent about 18 percent of the country. Nothing good comes from this.

Beto O’Rourke lost in heartbreaking fashion in Texas, as Andrew Gillum appeared to win Florida — although that may change. However, neither Scott Walker nor Kris Kobach will be governors come January. Voters in Oregon handily defeated an anti-choice ballot measure while voters in Alabama and West Virginia approved them. Ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid won in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska but lost in Montana. Nearly a million and a half people with felony convictions regained the right to vote in Florida, while four states passed “victims’ rights” measures that will exacerbate incarceration.

One of the most consequential outcomes of the 2018 midterms was the full-spectrum dominance of a diverse cross-section of women all across the country. “At least ninety-eight women were elected to the House on Tuesday night,” reports Margaret Talbot for The New Yorker, “eighty-four Democrats and fourteen Republicans — which means that more women will be serving in Congress than ever before.”

All this good, bad and ugly took place in the umbra of rampant national vote suppression by Republicans that begs the question: What would Tuesday’s results have been if so many millions of voters had not been deprived of the franchise in so many shamelessly rigged elections?

In Georgia, hundreds of voting machines meant for Democrat-leaning districts were left locked in a government warehouse, causing huge lines and long waits. In North Dakota, Native Americans who live on reservations were stripped of their voting rights because of a GOP-passed law requiring voters to have street addresses, which many reservation residents don’t have. The list of brazen efforts to suppress voting rights during this last election is seemingly endless and must be investigated down to the last stolen vote.

Towering over it all, however, is the change set to take place in the House of Representatives. Women, Muslims, African-Americans, war veterans, members of the Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities, young people, gun violence activists, teachers, union activists, all the people who Donald Trump disdains came together on Tuesday night to create this new truth:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Banking Committee Chairman Maxine Waters, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

On January 3, 2019, those people will stand athwart a renegade White House with subpoena power in hand and the popular winds at their back. That, more than anything, explains the incredible chaos which unfolded in the immediate aftermath of one of the most consequential elections in living memory.

It began with Donald Trump giving easily the most unsettling, unhinged press conference of his tenure, and brothers and sisters, that is saying something. The peak moment came when Trump shouted down CNN reporter Jim Acosta for asking questions about the Mueller investigation. At one point, it looked for all the world like the two of them were about to come to blows.

A White House aide attempted to take Acosta’s microphone away from him during the exchange, and Acosta discovered later in the day that his White House privileges had been summarily revoked. Adding insult to injury, the White House press office fobbed off a demonstrably doctored video claiming Acosta had been violent with the microphone-grabbing aide. The ruse was promptly exposed, and a variety of national press organizations are now raising every shade of Hell on Acosta’s behalf.

Mere minutes after his press conference meltdown, Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with confirmed lickspittleMatt Whitaker, who will now have immediate oversight control of the Mueller investigation. This despite Whittaker’s public attacks on the investigation and the fact that putting him in charge of the investigation may very well be flatly unconstitutional.

What sort of fellow is Mr. Whittaker? Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce was able to flag some comments made by Whittaker during his 2014 run for Senate:

I have a Christian worldview. Our rights come from our Creator and they are guaranteed by the Constitution. So I would start all analysis of any law or anything else first with the Constitution and then work from there.

OK, then.

It is to be devoutly hoped (pun intended) that Mr. Mueller saw this storm coming and has the contents of his investigation saved on flash drives that are easy to swallow should the need arise. No, I am not kidding. The period of time between right now and January 3 may be, mark my words, the strangest and most dangerous passage this nation has crossed in decades.

Why? Because before Tuesday, Trump only suspected someone might come along with a big enough stick to do him actual damage. Now, he knows they’re coming for sure, and if Wednesday’s presser was any indication, he is not taking the new order of things in stride. Matters did not improve as the weekend, and Trump’s trip to Paris, came crashing together in yet another presidential fit of temper.

Mueller was waiting out the midterms, and Adam Schiff is measuring the drapes for his new office while sharpening his fangs with 40-grit sandpaper. Trump knows they’re coming now, and he can impede some of it, but not all of it before the building falls on him.

I could be wrong, but I believe we are about to bear witness to a scorched-earth retreat the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Boer War. I strongly suspect Donald Trump is going to try to burn everything, and everyone, to save himself from the awful grace of consequences. He can’t stop all of it, but between now and the first week of January, he’s going to try with all his might.

Sessions was only the beginning. Anyone who was hoping for a bit of quiet time after the midterms has not, frankly, been paying enough attention. Worse, what is happening now will seem tame by the new year. It definitely gets weirder from here

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