One Month out from the Election: Give Your Analysis and Make Your Predictions



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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234 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Since I started writing this, Nikki Haley resigned, Trump had an op-ed published in USA Today, and Florida had a Cat 1 hurricane.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Wall Street is down more than 500.
      Kanye West visited the Oval Office.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        (knocks wood)
        Today is actually pretty slow. The only crazy stuff I’ve seen is internet drama.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          It’s not even 9 AM and Elizabeth Warren has released her DNA results.


            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              And we’re all holding our breath waiting for Trump to tweet about it.

              If you’re a company hoping to bury some bad news, you could do worse than to announce it 2 minutes after Trump tweets.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            CNN reported that Saudi is preparing to admit killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Judge rules that Stormy Daniels has to pay Trump’s legal fees from her defamation suit.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And Trump tweeted about this and called Stormy Daniels an awful name and Elizabeth Who? Kavanaugh Who?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Trump compared the Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman to Bret Kavanaugh when it came to the importance of a presumption of innocence.

                More details came out from Turkey regarding the audio tapes of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Where’s John Wick when you need him? Or maybe Winston. Turkey’s honor and hospitality have been offended.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                …Did somebody call for John Wick?

                (Apparently one of Saudi’s ‘hit squad’ has died in a car crash.)Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Of course he did. One will drown, another fall from a balcony, and the last 12 will be shot in a bar/spa/nightclub at close range by a Heckler & Koch P30L.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Facebook admits they overstated video metrics. Apparently 90% of media organizations had firings in response to the “pivot to video”. As such, I imagine a lot of journalists will write about this (but not make videos about it).

                There is another caravan of migrants coming up from Honduras hoping to cross the Mexico/United States border.

                The Justice Department charged a Treasury Department employee with giving a reporter confidential banking reports tied to Paul Manafort.

                Heidi Heitkamp, one of North Dakota’s senators, ran an open letter as an advertisement that included the names of more than 100 women and named them as abuse survivors. A number of the women have said that this is not correct and others have said that they did not give their consent to be so named. She has apologized for the ad.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, and Canada legalized recreational today but I don’t know that that will have any affect on US news cycles at all so I don’t know whether to count this one.

                It did play pretty big on Reddit, however.

                But it would.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Headline from ABC news: A threatening letter sent to the home of Republican Sen. Susan Collins that claimed to contain deadly ricin specifically mentioned her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Collins’ husband saysReport

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Trump tweeted about the caravan of Migrants.

                In response, Mexico sent riot police down to their southern border to keep the caravan from crossing Mexico.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Gaza militants launched rocket into Israel, the Iron Dome failed to catch it, Israel responded with an airstrike.

                And that feels like some really boring “dog bites man” news.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Trump compared the Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman to Bret Kavanaugh when it came to the importance of a presumption of innocence.

                I bet that sounded a lot more persuasive in his head than it does in print.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I will again state that this will be a nothing happens election. No chamber changes hands, though there will be some movement on the edges.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David says:

      Well, with the Great, Good, Depressing and Apocalyptic settings.

      Great – Libertarian party sweeps!
      Good – Libertarian party takes the house!
      Depressing – Someone, somewhere starts impeachment proceeding against anyone, triggering Civil War, First Blood Part II.
      Apocalyptic – Enough people vote for the Greater Evil, opening the gates of R’lyeh…Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    Dems take the House and do quite well on the state level. I’m dubious they can overcome the high obstacles that the current Senate map presents to actually seize the majority there but they’ll hold GOP gains to very little which will be very very bad news for the GOP in 2020.

    Which would put us in 2019 with Trump still in the Whitehouse but with no GOP house to cover for him. All the downsides the Republicans currently have minus a lot of their power. Not a good position to be in but they did get the court and a tax cut.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Democrats take the House and perform will at the state level. We don’t take back the Senate but the composition stays roughly where it is.Report

  5. Avatar Koz says:

    House: whoever gets the majority has less than 10 seat advantage. GOP retaining control is undervalued.

    Senate: Plausible options go from GOP even to GOP +5, I think the most likely scenario is GOP +5, but they could easily fall one or two short. GOP has closed the book on North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Indiana and Missouri are next. Montana, Nevada, and Florida will stay very tight until the end, when GOP gets across the finish line first.

    Underreported story of the entire election cycle: GOP is getting crushed in the Great Lakes/Big 10 when they shouldn’t be.Report

  6. Avatar Philip H says:

    House goes Democratic by between +10 and +15 – and several of the races aren’t called beforehand because their safety is “assumed” by the press and candidates.

    Senate – GOP is lucky to retain current numbers, but might end up +1 Democrats – which sets up an interesting series of showdowns where the remaining Blue Dogs could vote with the GOP and Mike Pence breaks ties in the GOP’s favor.

    Koz missed one under reported story – Mississippi might split its delegation or go full Democratic – Roger Wicker is not really campaigning for his seat against David Baria (Who is campaigning heavily), and Cindy Hyde-Smith and Chris McDaniel will split the GOP vote against a solidly Democratic Mike Espy in the three way open general election for Thad Cochran’s seat.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh, and the reason that I think it’s important to say not only what you think will happen but the vague outline of what disappointing looks like, what decent looks like, and what good/great looks like is because there is a tendency to say “oh, well, I didn’t get a direct bullseye but nobody did. My predictions were well in line with everybody else’s and the outcomes confirmed my priors just as I knew they would.”

    I mean, if we all know that Democrats would be winning big come November no matter who was in office… even if it was someone that we totally respect and wish the Republicans would get back to running like Rand Paul or Mitt Romney… then it’s not really that surprising that Democrats would be winning big with Trump in office. Do we know how to compare Trump’s outcomes with what we know that Romney or Paul would be getting in the same situation? If Trump does better than Hyporomney, what does that mean? If he does worse than Hypopaul, what does *THAT* mean?

    Well, the only way to avoid the false but comforting “This is exactly in line with what I knew was going to happen” is to write down what you know is going to happen.

    Then, come November, you have reason to say “holy cow, I was looking at things the wrong way!” and can change how you look at things if you were wrong outside of, oh, 10-15%.

    Of course, in a worse case scenario, you can always fall back on “I made that prediction in October and I had no idea that the October Surprise would have been *THAT* and, if I did know that, I would have made the right prediction. So I was right to have gotten the wrong numbers.”Report

  8. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I’m standing by my prediction from 4 or 5 years ago.

    On top of that, I will say my longshot bet is for Devin Nunes to lose his seat. I’d give it maybe a 20 percent chance. A true Blue Wave will topple him.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    I’ll stand with my previous game and predictions* for the national picture. If Koz is right about the Great Lakes, I’ll lose. As usual for local things, the referendums and initiatives are more interesting. The state blue book arrived yesterday — 13 state-wide items this time. From the legislature, some tidying up of constitutional language plus creation of a redistricting commission for Congressional districts. Two conflicting statutory initiatives for road projects — one that authorizes a small sales tax for 20 years to fund projects; and one that requires the legislature to issue road bonds and cut $260M per year from other spending to pay for them. Rural interests are funding an amendment that would require the state and local governments to immediately reimburse property owners for any actions that reduced the value of the property in any way whatsoever. Good times.

    Under-anticipated story: the Latinx vote finally shows up in Arizona and Nevada.

    * Split the country in three: (a) the Census Bureau 13-state West; (b) the 12-state northeast urban corridor; and (c) the other 25 states. Score +1 for the party gaining a Congressional seat, governor’s office, or state legislative chamber (-1 for losing one of those). Prediction: Dems gain in (a) and (b), enough to win the House but not the Senate; the two sides break even in (c).Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Apocalypse: Democrats win but Trump arrests them all and fills the seats with cronies. Martial law declared.

    Depressing: Democrats gain seats but not enough for a majority.

    Acceptable: Democrats gain the House but not the Senate.

    Great: Democrats win both the House and Senate. Trump reduced to ranting on Twitter for two years, everyone calls McConnel pathetic. Stephen Miller is forced to sit in detention by Congress.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Your apocalypse scenario is approximately my prediction for 2024 if Trump doesn’t die of a stroke before then. I suppose it could come early.Report

    • Avatar Nevermoor says:

      Endorsed. I would be depressed if we don’t take the House, but satisfied if we take it but not the Senate (given how tough a map that is this year).

      Acceptable turns to “happy” if we win the GA/OH governor races. Honestly, I haven’t carefully tracked what we need to do with respect to heading off 2020 gerrymandering efforts, but that’s the most important thing other than taking the House.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        I haven’t carefully tracked what we need to do with respect to heading off 2020 gerrymandering efforts

        Don’t peak in 2018 two-years too early.

        I’d honestly give props to the Democrats if they throw the Ring into the Cracks of Doom and resist gerrymandering in their favor (assuming a strong 2020).

        Serious question… which “Neutral Method” would you (we) pick? Here’s 538 with a fun interactive map. My one rule for this game is all the states have to use the same method… neutral is neutral and all that.Report

        • Avatar Nevermoor says:

          Honest answer: I think it needs to be state by state, because different states have different local interest that merit grouping, different population density, etc.

          For my money, of those methods, the gerrymanders are obviously bad, competitive elections is a dumb metric, I’m not sure compactness is a sufficient single-issue goal. My overall preference would be the partisan breakdown map because when someone says “State S is super-gerrymandered” the most persuasive next sentence is “52% of the vote was Party P but 70% of the seats went to the other party.”

          So if we’re going expressly partisan, fixing that makes most sense. Otherwise, I think you do it in a less-algorithmic non-partisan way. Which my state seems to do pretty well.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine says:

            We. had. one. rule.

            Ok… proportionally partisan map for everyone.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              And let’s redraw state lines!

              Why is there a North Dakota *AND* a South Dakota? It should just be “Dakota”.

              Let the four senators fight it out in Thunderdome and go back down to two. Then cut California in half.

              We can probably consolidate New Hampshire and Vermont and split Texas while we’re at it.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Sure, and team blue loses Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware…

                But fisticuffs over what constitutes a universal “fair” congressional apportionment system doesn’t require anything other than political will. That’s all.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                538 has Connecticut and Rhode Island as blue.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                And I completely missed the context and thought you were talking about governors raceReport

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                No worries… when we redraw the maps, there are no governor’s races in DE, RI, or CT. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Has anyone ever done a hypothetical map of the US based on merging adjacent states so that the remaining divisions all meet some minimum requirement for area and population?Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                So gerrymander the US?

                I’ve never heard of such a map, but Google can’t wrap its mind around any sort of query I write that touches the words electoral, congressional, district, etc. But then, our relationship is already fraught, so it might be me.

                But honestly, is that a question or are you looking for permission to do it yourself? If so, you have my permission.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                One of the things that makes the states “work” is that they are established. Once we start gerrymandering states, there’s a *LOT* of crazy stuff that could start happening. Give Boulder to Wyoming one decade. Give it back to Colorado the next.

                What does *THAT* do?Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                I’ve seen that one*. I don’t care about equal population — I just want to see what happens if there are limits for being a state, like >10,000 square miles and >3M people. At least in my head, preferably by aggregating small states rather than tacking small states onto states that already meet whatever standard.

                * It has a different set of problems. Shiprock spans three time zones. Ogallala cuts mountain-focused Denver off from the rest of the Mountain West and tacks it onto a huge empty swath of the Great Plains.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                I continue to disagree that there needs to be a simple single-input algorithm for all redistricting.

                I think a non-partisan group can consider a number of variables to reach a good result (though I would define a good result on the metric I’ve already supported). I don’t, for example, hear a lot of republicans saying CA is unfairly gerrymandered.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My main opinions on gerrymandering involve stuff like making the shapes intelligible. If you have a squiggly line, it should follow either the state border or a river or something. None of this “looks like cold metal poured into a bucket of water” stuff. Maybe follow the border of a city or a windy street… but having stuff like “the district narrows down to six feet wide for 200 yards as it passes through the airport and then opens up again on the other side” is obvious bs.Report

        • Avatar Nevermoor says:

          Ok, but the person elected GA governor this year stays there for four years.Report

  11. Avatar Philip H says:

    Saul Degraw: Mississippi is a little too red for that to happen

    You’d think, but in the Cochran race Sen. Hyde Smith is a switched Democrat, which means most establishment Republicans don’t trust her. Her Republican opponent is Chris McDaniel who is a Tea Party Republican state senator who lost to Cochran last time after he sneaked photos of Cochran’s bedridden wife out of a nursing home. Since Mike Espy is the Democrat, and he was previously endorsed by Haley Barbour, he has more then a fair chance.Report

  12. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    I’ll stand by my earlier prediction of status quo ante.

    Trump has a full month to hold his little Nuremberg rallies, and from what I’ve seen the heartland is eating it up. He’s milking the Kavanaugh thing for all it’s worth, and voter enthusiasm polls seem to be indicating it’s having an effect.Report

  13. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The revision I need to make to my prior prediction is that I don’t think Heitkamp will be able to hold on anymore in North Dakota, and the Senate will be 50-50 (which of course keeps control for the Republicans)

    I still think enough Clinton district Republicans will get flushed out this time around to give the Dems a narrow lead in the House. Narrow enough that it will be between 220-225 seats.

    I think things are going to get economically ugly next year (job losses are always much faster than job recovery)Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      I’m almost coming around to the sine qua non of hot takes that its better for the Dems to *not* gain majorities in each chamber of Congress so that they catch no flak for a downturned economy in 2020. Otherwise timing could bite them in the butt *again* going into a census cycle.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Remember Dan Scotto’s Value Over Replacement-Level Republican President essay?

        It seemed to me that one of the conclusions was that, in that sliver of time, it’d be better for the Republicans to have lost the election.

        Which strikes me as non-obvious. I mean, was it good for the Republicans that Obama got elected?

        I mean… kinda? I guess? But it’s non-obvious. So, too, the democrats stalling out in 2018. Maybe it’d be good for the dems to lose because of the coming downturn?

        But I’m pretty sure that the market can stay irrational longer than the dems can stay solvent.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          The counter to my hot take is that it probably doesn’t matter who has control of Congress during a recession, just who is President. And both 1992 and 2008 show that it’s a much easier sales job to say “we have a Congress, now give us the Presidency to Get Things Done” than it is to say “Hey, guys, can give our President a Congress pretty please?”Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine says:

            Counter-counter any half decent Politician/President can blame a downturn on a congress… “Congress is the reason all this economic legislation I’d totally pass is not passing.” Whom the electorate believes/blames? That’s dependent on… stuff.

            I don’t really think there’s a “tanking” strategy in politics… unless/until the losing party gets some sort of perq for losing. Like picking which Senate Seats are up for re-election in the next cycle… or drawing the congressional districts… or maybe playing in the Jr. League for a cycle and promoting the best Third Party into the Majors (oh, wait, that last one isn’t a perq).Report

  14. Avatar Fish says:

    Apocalypse: Democrats fail to take either the House and lose ground in the Senate and lose the only two Governor’s races I’m paying any attention to: Kansas and Colorado
    Depressing: Same as the “Apocalypse” setting, only Democrats win the House and then waste the next two years trying desperately to ram Articles of Impeachment against Trump through the House
    Good: Democrats take the House, gain ground in the Senate, Polis wins Colorado but Kobach wins Kansas
    Great: Democrats take the House (including Spaulding unseating Lamborn in Colorado’s 5th) and the Senate, Polis wins Colorado, Kelly wins Kansas, I win the lottery and can immediately engage in a life of leisure, and an unknown benefactor gifts me a unicorn.Report

  15. Avatar Dan Scotto says:

    I’ve been one of the “bears” on Trump for a while, and I’ll stick by my guns. Thanks to Jaybird for bringing up my piece from earlier this year. The basic argument is something like the following:

    1. Trump’s electoral strategy in 2016 traded certain high-propensity voters for lower-propensity voters. Those high-propensity voters are deeply frustrated with Trump’s style, even if many agree with him on policy. Some of them will vote for Democrats; others will stay home. The lower-propensity voters are less likely to vote by definition.
    2. Democrats are as enthusiastic as ever and are going to vote in droves, as they did in Virginia’s gubernatorial election.

    I’ve *started* to waver on this a bit in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh stuff, which did seem to consolidate the Republican base (nothing unifies Republicans like judges). But I’ve gone too far to turn back now. So, with that said:

    – I think the Democrats win 55-60 seats in the House, including a couple of stunners not on anyone’s radar.
    – I think Republicans thread the needle and hang onto the Senate, which stays status quo. (North Dakota and Nevada switch places, everything else holds.)Report

  16. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    I’ll stick with my original estimate… mostly.

    It looks like I’m going to miss on ND and IN… but they cancel each other out. Senate still looks clean for Republicans, maybe even 0 or +1 to my original estimate of -1. So I’ll waffle and say -1 to +1, but no change in ownership.

    I still think the House will be a bloodbath for R’s… not really a deep analysis, more of a gut feel based on 2017 VA (as Dan notes above). The basic premise that districts are mostly designed to support the incumbent is true based on likely voters… the D’s will see likely plus unlikely voters. I’m not feeling the same fervor out here in Redville – not for congressional seats… if VA hadn’t nominated Corey Stewart I’d be curious to see what that might have looked like… but they did and even out here no one’s motivated by Stewart… so Kaine (Senate) in a cakewalk.

    The unanswerable question is what I would call “good” results. Since I’d like to speed-up realignment and the breaking down of the current political parties its hard to say what outcome would help that along. I suspect the current trajectory will just see more trench warfare… so, booo. A surprise Red Tide? That might do the trick… so then that would have to be my qualified “good” option.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      Donnelley is the kind of pro-life Democrat that one would most expect to be hurt by his vote against Kavanaugh, but there is no post-vote polling in Indiana yet, which is kind of surprising.Report

  17. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    I guess I’m sticking with my June prediction:

    Democrats gain 9 seat majority in the House;
    Republicans net 2 additional seats in the Senate

    I guess my starting point on the House seems different than others; I see House Republicans having gotten more total votes than Trump in 2016, so I don’t see Trump as having much in terms of coattails, plain or reverse.Report

  18. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Talked to a co-worker. Made a joke about Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test.

    He said to me “Who?”

    I explained the joke and he needed me to explain who Elizabeth Warren actually was.

    So there’s that.Report

  19. Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

    My bet: Democrats win the “popular vote” overwhelmingly – let’s say by 5,000,000 total votes – but gain no new power, owing to the catastrophic clusterf-ck that is American democracy.Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Two weeks away from the election.

    Kavanaugh appears to have disappeared entirely.
    Stormy Daniels appears to have disappeared entirely.
    I keep thinking that Elizabeth Warren has disappeared entirely, but then she gives an interview talking about how principled she was being with her DNA test or something like that and it extends the story for a day.

    The two main storylines now are:
    The Caravan coming up from Central America.
    Saudi Arabia being complicit in the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

    Two weeks remains an eternity and we’re very likely to have at least one more major story break between now and Election Day.

    The main thing I’ve noticed is that talk of a “blue wave” seems to have receded. I’ve even seen a “Who was saying that there would be a ‘blue wave’?” question asked (defensively).Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      ABC news is reporting that:

      Explosive devices addressed to Hillary Clinton’s home and the house of former President Barack Obama were intercepted, and the Time Warner Center that is home to CNN in New York City was evacuated after a suspicious package was sent there, officials said.

      That might take over as the main story in the news over Khashoggi and the Caravan.Report

      • Might be wrong, but Khashoggi isn’t nearly the story to general population as it is with media/FoPo folks. It’s over-amplified do to his WaPo connections, plus the competing troll networks of the Saudi’s and the Turks with their Russian friends help cranks the volume up far more than it reality. I don’t think average voters are that invested in it. This is the second time we’ve done the “caravan” story so we know how that plays out, and to who. See where this goes, if connected and a serious threat it just might.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The Khashoggi story does seem to suffer from the whole “media covers story about the media” phenomenon. As for the Caravan… well, it seems likely to result in arguments about whether we should have open borders, whether we should abolish ICE, and whether it’s fair to ask democratic politicians about this because nobody is arguing for open borders/abolishing ICE.

          As arguments go, it strikes me as an argument that I would *NOT* want to be having 13 days before an election were I a politician who supported liberalizing immigration laws.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Will it get more play than the same thing happening to Soros a day or two ago?

        (I think so, but I can’t be sure anymore)Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I don’t think it’s possible to talk about Soros at all.

          “Soros had a bomb sent to him.”
          “Who is Soros?”

          No good comes after that. None.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          Checking back on the news a couple hours later, today’s stories do seem to be getting the Breaking. Update. Update. Update. treatment on main news sites and blogs.

          So this in imo is going to be ‘sticky’ in people’s minds. Normie people’s, too.

          (and to be clear, I’m not saying that this is nothing but absolutely real – though if I had to bet, I’m going to predict it falls into that ‘terrorist, but crazy’ niche that James Hodgkinson fell into)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        NBC is reporting:

        The devices, which appear to be working explosives, were in manila packages that included stamps and signatures on them with a return address belonging to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla, according to three senior law enforcement officials.


        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Heh, our first clue… probably a libertarian with a sense of irony.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Second clue:

            The device had a parody ISIS flag on it.

            The print-out appears to show a parody flag that replaces Arabic characters with the silhouette of three women in high heels, and a middle inscription reading “Get ‘Er Done” — which is the catchphrase of standup comedian Larry the Cable Guy.


            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              Third clue… only a non-fan of Larry the Cable Guy trying to make it look like a fan of Larry the Cable Guy would get the catch phrase wrong: Git ‘r done

              I mean you could practically diagram the sentence, Get ‘er doneReport

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Next clue: Twitter has been talking about this for a while but I was waiting for a reputable news source to report on it:

              Some Suspected Mail Bombs Were Not Capable of Exploding, Others Yet to Be Analyzed, Officials Say

              Some of the 10 suspected mail bombs addressed to high-profile Democrats and others over the last few days were flawed and not capable of exploding, while others have yet to be fully analyzed, several investigators said Thursday.


              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                I was wondering the same… were they really bombs? why didn’t *any* explode? [not that we want any to explode, but surely one might/ought have] The press was calling them pipe bombs, but the police seemed to be calling them dangerous devices… like a Note7 on an airplane.

                Could just be poor bomb making skills? Perhaps search for people whose internet was down?

                Either way, a whole lot of priors are going to be confirmed for one team or the other. I confess I could go either way on this one… but I really haven’t been following closely. And, full disclosure, I’m not on twitter.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If the point was to create terror (but not hurt anybody), a device that looks like a bomb but cannot explode would do that. “Hoax devices”, I guess they’re called.

                Still officially a terror attack… but the point of the devices was that they be seen by their recipients (and reported upon?) rather than that they explode and harm people.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                They contained real explosives.

                But sure, harmless.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The article I linked to above says this:

                Earlier in the investigation, officials in multiple states had described the items as live explosives and a number of senior bomb techs briefed on the probe said they had all the components necessary for successful explosions.

                But it also goes on to say this:

                The latest development could lend credence to a theory NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned in a Thursday interview with CNN, where one of the devices was sent. “There’s a theory that the bombs were not intended to explode, but were intended to intimidate,” Cuomo said. “If that is the intent, then this is having the desired intent. And it could actually be fueling the group that’s doing it.”

                “Harmless” is not an appropriate word.

                But if the devices were built in such a way to make it unlikely that they would explode, then that makes the attack different than an attack where the devices were built in such a way that they were actually intended to go off.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Nor is “hoax” appropriate. Mailing someone live explosives is an actual threat.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Fair enough.

                I don’t know what the best term to use for a device that looks like a bomb but was deliberately, here… let me copy and paste this from the article… “not intended to explode” would be.

                If you can give me a good term for that, I’ll cheerfully use it.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                “Threat” seems like a good word.

                If you get a bullet in the mail – not rigged up to some kind of device to make it shoot at the person opening the packet, just a bullet sitting loose in an envelope – that would be kind of comparable.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:


                Perhaps a badly designed/implemented one, with missing components, but it’s still a bomb. C-4 without a blasting cap is about as stable as you can get — troops in Vietnam were known to burn small amounts of it to heat rations. If I send you a brick of that by mail, it’s still a bomb.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Perhaps a badly designed/implemented one, with missing components, but it’s still a bomb.

                If I’m comparing it to a bomb that was properly designed to look like a bomb but not actually explode, I’m in a place where I have to use a lot of words to explain that.

                I’d prefer a word that didn’t need to be explained quite so much.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                If you send me a package with live explosives, it’s a bomb. Your intent is to convince me it’s a bomb. The authorities have to treat it as a bomb. Granted IANAL, but my take would be the burden would be on you to make the argument that you shouldn’t be charged for it being a bomb.

                You may get offered a plea deal of three-to-five if you plead guilty to the lesser charge of sending explosives in the US mail. But that’s a separate kind of thing.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                I usually try not to embroil myself in discussions like this but …

                Couldn’t y’all just call it a broken bomb, or a deliberately broken bomb, and convey the details with a very small number of words?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                It is perhaps an improperly designed or assembled bomb. An engineer such as myself, upon receiving such a package, would go ahead and fix the problems, yielding a working bomb that I got in the mail *for free*. Thus, the best description of the devices that I can come up with would be “partially completed bomb kits”.

                As an aside, sometimes at work I’m asked to help children fix their fancy bomb detonator circuits. Usually the problem is a very poor grasp of basic electrical theory, such as having a fancy Arduino count-down board that at 00:00 cuts its own power instead of closing the detonator switch.

                Bombs are pretty good junior-high engineering projects. However, if an upper-level high-school kid was still interested in them, and was also pretty weird, I might raise more than an eyebrow.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I like “partially completed bomb kits”. Also good: “bomb left to the recipient as an exercise”,Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Maybe its a bomb chain letter… you add on to it then mail it to all your friends you’d never like to hear from again. One way or another.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                We don’t know what the explosive is, so we? Probably something quite stable, since none of them went off, but if there’s any significant change one of them might have, then they’re plain and simple bombs.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                NBC is reporting that the bombs consisted of PVC pipe filled with low explosive powder, shrapnel, a detonator, and a digital timer.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                CBS is reporting the following:

                All of the parcels were sent in similar packaging, and the devices were made to appear like active bombs. None of them detonated, which experts say will be helpful in tracing where the materials came from.

                Investigators are working to determine whether the bombs were just poorly designed or if they were simply meant to scare the recipients.


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                MORE: The person in custody in Florida in the mail bombings case is believed to be from NYC or New York state originally, is white male in his 50s – WNBC— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) October 26, 2018


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you want something better than twitter:

                The man was taken into custody at an auto parts store on State Road 7 at SW 6th Street around 10:30 a.m. A “loud explosion” was heard at the time of the arrest, possibly from a flash bang device used by FBI in the course of making the arrest.

                A law enforcement source told CBS4 the man is 56-years-old and they were led to him through DNA evidence.


              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Based on the few pictures and limited information that has been provided so far, I am left with the impression that there are a number of commenters at this blog who could spend an afternoon poking around the internet and then build something much better. At a minimum, they would build something tidier.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                A fun conversation (that I don’t want to get into here) is always to sit down with a couple of engineers and ask “okay, so let’s say you were a terrorist… what would *YOU* hit and how would you hit it?”

                Have follow-ups like “What if you didn’t want to get caught?”
                “What if you didn’t care if you got caught?”
                “What if you didn’t care if you died?”

                There’s usually a half dozen movie scripts in the first 5 minutes.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                The point of terrorism is “a few dead, a lot watching’.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Authorities have released a name:

                Cesar Sayoc.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There are tons of pictures of a van on the Twitter. Here’s an article from a real news source that links to some of the tweets containing said pictures.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                As some wittier commenters online have dubbed it, the all-new Dodge MagaVan.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The funniest joke I’ve seen so far is “this is what a Transformer Steve Bannon would turn into.”Report

              • Avatar maribou says:

                @marchmaine Join me in the corner for “unless it proves to be at minimum a dozen organized people (and even that might not be enough of a conspiracy to mean anything), all this proves is that dangerously out of whack people will dangerously out of whack” with a side bet on “holy crap stuff is wound up right now,” why don’t you?

                It’s a very roomy spot. And the other upside is, I don’t think I’ll have to move after the facts come out.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                The word we’re looking for is “stochastic terrorism”.

                Unstable whackos aren’t disconnected from the culture we live in. A political climate filled with rage and fear sets them off.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @chip That might be the phrase you’re looking for, but I was looking for the ones I used.

                But if you would like me to use that phrase, I’ll use it to assert that the best way to combat stochastic terrorism (as opposed to the systemic and organized kind – maybe – by my way of looking at history, systemic/organized terrorism actually is best combated by multiple and contradictory responses, including what I’m about to say among them) :

                One must strive to one’s best to be as placid, kind, and stoic as is humanly possible given that one also must live immersed in that same climate. And to not allow the fearmongers to redefine placid, kind, and stoic as weak or indecisive. And when one fails at that very difficult task (as one inevitably does), to go back to it with a will, and with complete firmness about the evils that one is truly confronting in the world.

                Anything less will contribute to, rather than gain dominance over, that fearful, hateful climate.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Ok, so we’re 100% sure its not Debbie Wasserman Schultz? [Just checking]

                Yeah, my gut tells me lone nut job, but I’m mostly lost without 538 giving me the odds.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                The conspiracy that assassinated Abraham Lincoln and attempted to assassinate Secretary of State Seward (stabbed but survived) consisted of fewer than a dozen people.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @mike-schilling and thus I would not consider that conspiracy systematic, though it certainly was of its time.

                Did you think I was saying dangerous whackjobs acting unsystematically might *not* kill someone important? I wasn’t, merely that I don’t find it confirming any priors about “the other side”. I mean, other than about Trump and the lickspittles who vote with him and speechify in his favor (ie leading congresspeople and senators, not individual voters or even every congresscritter and senator who votes with him sometimes) being a pox on the country, stirring up the danger levels for everybody on every side, but it’s not actually possible to confirm *those* priors of mine because they’re already unshakeable.

                And whomever this particular set of whackjobs turns out to be will say nothing further about “the sides”, broadly drawn.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                They’re being sent from Florida, so let’s not rule out a politician from there who frequently has been observed trying desperately to ingratiate himself with Trump, say, a junior senator.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @mike-schilling That would definitely fail to confirm my priors. But I’m not betting on anything happening that would fail to confirm them.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        And no one cares about ditching the INF treaty, because nuclear war is less scary than life under Trump.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Yesterday I thought I knew what the two big storylines heading into November would be.

      Today I think I know what the big storyline heading into November will be.

      I am trying to remember but I keep forgetting: 7 days is an eternity. And that only gets us to the other side of Halloween.Report

  21. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Nate Silver thinks that the polls are so tight and chaotic that there is a reasonable chance for a Democratic sweep and for Republicans to hold:

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Nate and crew’s big struggle seems to be what to do about the Democrats outraising the Republicans by 2:1 in local money in a lot of places. Their model says that should translate into huge Democratic gains, but that’s not what’s showing up in the polling data. I’ll stick with my geographic take — the fundraising will matter in places where the Dems already do reasonably well, and won’t in places where they haven’t been doing well.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I can see how certain fundraising levels can lead to diminishing returns at some point.

        Democrats seemed posed to pick up seats in blue or bluish strongholds. States that went for Democrats generally in the past but a few switched for Trump in 2016 like Iowa. But some blue state Republican congress critters are going to go home.

        I think Democrats will gain seats in the House. The question is whether they will gain enough.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I had thought that Sliver said fundraising was a proxy for enthusiasm. So big fundraising, especially from small donors, suggested high enthusiasm and therefore likely good turnout.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            I think the issue with fundraising is that it has been nationalized. I get ads from Democratic candidates all the time asking for cash. Most of these are candidates that I cannot vote for. So Beto is pulling in lots of cash, great!! Where does that cash come from? It helps but all the enthused Democrats might just be living in safe blue areas.

            The same thing happened in a few special elections like GA-6. Great fundraising but maybe most of it was from outside the District vs. people who could actually vote and in the end, the district remained in Republican hands.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          I am coming around to the belief that the House will turn on something Koz suggested a couple of weeks ago. If the Dems do well in the Rust Belt parts of the Midwest — IA, IL, IN, MN, MI, OH, and WI — they’ll win the House comfortably. If not, it will be a close thing. If the Dems do well there and win the House, the next question is whether those new Dems will vote for Californian Nancy Pelosi.

          Looking ahead to 2020, I somehow ended up at the PredictIt market for the 2020 Dem candidate for President. Kamala Harris leads the field at 21¢. Elizabeth Warren is at 15¢, and Kirsten Gillibrand at 7¢.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        The weakness of any polling model is turnout- there isn’t a perfect way to predict who will show up or not.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          True. AZ/NV results will largely be determined by whether this is the year the the Hispanic vote shows up.Report

        • Avatar Nevermoor says:

          Right. This election is unprecedented in a lot of ways (way more DEM candidates, way more of which are serious), but does that mean a lot of 5-10 point losses in R+20 territory, or does it mean actually winning some seats.

          Is this the year that Lucy forgets to yank the football in Texas?

          Hard for me not to be pessimistic.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            I hate the horserace coverage, mostly because it just fixates on each election to the exclusion of the trend.

            Whether Beto wins or loses, Texas is now purple. Whether Stacy Abrams wins or loses, Georgia is now purple.Report

            • Avatar Nevermoor says:

              I hope both of those things are true, but if Ted Cruz can comfortably beat a strong democratic candidate, I don’t think I’d call that purple. An ordinary republican would probably beat an ordinary democrat there by 10+

              That said, you’re right that trends matter, and it’s sure exciting to see Virginia turning reliably blue in a lot of ways, and I hope that trend continues to trickle down the east coast.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              The Dems have to win some stuff before you can label a state purple. Consider Texas, using the things I use to measure — the governor’s red; two of two state legislative chambers are red; two of two US Senators are red; and 25 of 36 US House seats are red. Where are the Dems going to improve on that next month? “We came closer but we still lost everything again,” is not purple. (Especially if the DOJ and the SCOTUS are inclined to allow the state to raise barriers that make things harder for the Dems.)

              Colorado is purple: the US Senate seats split; the legislature split; the US House seats 4-3 for the Republicans; the governor a Democrat.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Well yeah, you’re thinking of the term as meaning something that is split, where I’m thinking of more “up for grabs”.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Clearly, we have different definitions of “up for grabs”.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @michael-cain One of the far less logical but more amusing ways I became certain Colorado was a purple state is when equal amounts of people started indignantly telling me it was red vs. it was blue.

                When we have Texans and Georgians insisting that NO, they live in a blue state (without saying “or we would if not for voter suppression,” in Georgia’s case, which, fair point) …. then I’ll believe they’re purple. 😉Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          The weakness of any polling model is vote suppression — there isn’t a perfect way to predict who will be allowed to vote and which votes will be counted.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:


            Fears of voter suppression were again ignited in Georgia on Thursday after state Democratic officials said that more than 4,700 vote-by-mail applications were missing in DeKalb County, one of Georgia’s most populous and liberal-leaning regions.

            A spokesman for the DeKalb County elections board would not confirm the details of the call. Sam Tillman, the chairman of the board, added that “there is no evidence that there are any missing or lost absentee ballot request forms.” He said of a list of 4,700 names provided by the Democratic officials, he could confirm that the county had only received 48 of the requests


  22. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Mass Murder at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. 12 shot, including 3 police officers. Shooter is in custody.Report

  23. Avatar Jaybird says:

    After five games, the Red Sox have won the World Series.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Bolsonaro has won Brazil’s election with 55.5% of the vote.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        German chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2021.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          I was just texting with my brother in Mannheim about this. He said it’s being taken as inevitable by the people and press. Also says there’s a broad ‘silent majority’ feeling that she fucked Germany and Europe with the migrant crisis. He said ignore American news reporting on lack of real enthusiasm for outsider parties, that its wishful thinking on their part, and that they don’t understand the level of cynicism towards the mainstream parties/Grand Coalition.

          My money is that the next coalition will be CDU/CSU and include AfD as a junior partner.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          She’s stepping down as party lead before that. The proximate cause was poor local elections where CDU (and all the establishment parties) continue to lose support to both the further Left and Right.

          This will help test my theory that multi-party electoral systems can adapt to moribund and entrenched policies better than two party systems. It isn’t simply that AfD or the Greens will become the dominant parties (though they might), its that seeing the actual governing seats go to other parties the coalitions will adapt and co-opt.Report

  24. Avatar Jaybird says:

    President Donald Trump said in an interview that he plans to sign an executive order ending “birthright citizenship” for the children of non-American citizens who are born on U.S. soil.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I look forward with great anticipation to seeing the legal theory that nullifies the first sentence of the 14th Amendment.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        They seem to be leaning on an “Original Intent” interpretive theory as opposed to the “Strict Textualism” the right usually champions. And the libertarians are pointing at liberals and blaming “living constitutionalism” but that’s just jumping on a target of opportunity.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          They’re leaning on the long established precedent of “White Makes Right” and hoping that Justice Bret “Pepe the Frog” Kavanaugh will assent.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            Just a snap personal opinion, but I don’t see either Thomas or Roberts going along. Thomas for the obvious reason. Roberts because of his adopted Irish kids and because the giant corporations are going to oppose this. Roberts may be many things, but first he looks out for the big corporate interests.Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          Strict textualism also applies to all the legal background that’s grandfathered in with the 14th Amendment, such as the noted exceptions for children of diplomats. The Supreme Court has long cited such exceptions in rulings on citizenship cases. I think I’ve read most of those rulings while arguing with conservatives about whether Ted Cruz is a natural born citizen (He is, but of Canada, not the US).

          I also think the government is in part mistaken about children born on US bases overseas, and once suggested a set of theoretical questions a court could ask to determine if someone was born under full US sovereignty, no matter where that place might be.

          My test was that a woman in labor, while overseas, calls for an ambulance to take her to the hospital, where she has a child. She takes the child home, then gets upset at her hubby about a 3:00 AM feeding and throws a baby bottle at him. He call the cops and they haul her off to jail for the night. The next day she appears before a judge to argue her case.

          The multipart test is this:
          1) When the ambulance came, which country’s flag was on the shoulder patches of the ambulance crew?
          2) What flag flew outside the hospital where she gave birth?
          3) When the local police or law enforcement came to her home, what flag was on their shoulders?
          4) When she was taken to jail, what flag flew outside it?
          5) When she went before a judge, what flag was behind him?

          If the answer in all cases is the US flag, then the baby was born under US sovereignty on what, for all legal purposes regarding citizenship, should be considered US soil. The purpose of the jail and judge part of the test is to distinguish between foreigners whose babies are delivered on US bases (because our hospitals are spiffy and sometimes the only modern facility in the area) and US persons who are under the US legal system, not the local legal system. That prevents an extension of natural born citizenship by which non US people wouldn’t even need to come to the US, but just swing by a US military base, to give their children anchor baby citizenship.

          However, that is not the way the current law works. Children born to US persons stationed overseas are not natural born citizens unless their parents have status as US diplomats, so many military brats have to be naturalized at birth.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Well, the point of this was not to legislate the 14th Amendment but if I had to guess at the legal theory, I think it would rely heavily on yelling “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” as loudly as possible over and over and over and over and over as if it changes the rest of the Amendment.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      It’s an interesting approach. Under British and US common law, a person was a natural born subject or citizen because they were born within the domain of a liege, and thus were under his protection while babies, and thus owed him lifelong allegiance. Those born on US soil that was under British occupation during the War of 1812 were not natural born citizens because they were born under British protection. Indians who were born under tribal government were not natural born citizens until Congress took action, under a bill sponsored by Charles Curtis, who as a child fought on the Indian side of Indian wars because he was an Indian (and later Vice President of the US).

      It could easily be argued that those who are here illegally are not under US sovereignty, and thus their children are no more natural born citizens that would be children born to an invading British general and his wife while occupying upstate New York.Report

      • Avatar J_A says:

        It could easily be argued that those who are here illegally are not under US sovereignty, and thus their children are no more natural born citizens that would be children born to an invading British general and his wife while occupying upstate New York.

        If you argue that illegal immigrants (as well as legal visitors and non-permanent residents, such as tourists and H1B Visa holders) are not subject to USA laws, the corollary is that, should they commit a crime in the USA, they cannot be tried and punished under U.S. Law. Your only recourse, like in the case of diplomats, who are NOT under the jurisdiction of the USA, would be expulsion from the country.

        I don’t think that the Attorney General will want to make that argument.Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          Tourists and Visa holders are under US law. The government gave them specific permission to be here. If an illegal was under US law they’d logically be deported, because they’re here illegally and without the consent or knowledge of the US government. The fact that they’re not deported indicates that they might not be under US federal law at all.

          But further, the sanctuary cities movement is to specificially protect illegals from US law, making sure they’re not subject to it, and thus filling in the rest of Trump’s argument.Report

          • Avatar J_A says:

            Tourists and Visa holders are under US law. The government gave them specific permission to be here.

            Then the children of tourists and visa holders will be automatically citizens at birth.

            If an illegal was under US law they’d logically be deported, because they’re here illegally and without the consent or knowledge of the US government.

            Being here illegally is not the same as not being under the jurisdiction of. An illegal alien who kills someone and is captured will be tried, and, if found guilty, sent to prison or death row. The US law applies to him. A diplomat who kills someone cannot be tried in US courts. He can only be expelled. In this respect, US law does not apply to him. On a less exterm e case, diplomats in NYC don’t pay their parking tickets, because neither them nor their cars are subject to US or NY or NYC laws.Report

  25. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There is also, apparently, a really crazy story brewing but I can’t tell if it’s a real story or a twitter drama story.

    Someone has announced that they’re representing the sexual assault victims of Robert Mueller.
    This someone is, apparently, tied to Jacob Wohl.

    Popehat can talk about it better than I.

    We’re (FINALLY) one week away from the election so we might actually be approaching having a single-digit number of news cycles left.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Apparently there is a 20 year old kid named Jacob Wohl who is associated with this scam. He denied the connection but one of the “financial firms” that tired to set up the scam has a voicemail that goes to his mom’s voicemail.

      He is the new O’Keefe it seems. My life became sadder when I learned of his existence last week.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        This thread seems to get into how crazy and obviously fake “Surefire Intelligence” is.

        They used a photo of Christoph Waltz for their Zurich financial investigator, for example.

        This might be a crazy enough story that is easy enough to understand and is funny enough to have legs for the next seven days.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Christoph Waltz would be a fantastic Financial Investigator, except for the forensic accounting skills and all that… but the *idea* of a Financial Investigator? That’s all Christoph Waltz. So I guess I see where they were going with that.

          As for plastering an Oscar winner on your fake website while attempting a felony… that’s a less inspired choice.Report

        • This Wohl story is making a strong run at “favorite news story of all time for sheer entertainment value”Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Its like a mashup of “Burn After Reading” and “Superbad”, with Wohl played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            I honestly don’t get this guy at all. I didn’t hear about him until the last week or so. Who the hell trusts a kid to do investments for them?

            Sounds like the dad is on the scam too.Report

            • I’ve kept an eye on him for a while. The story is just unbelievable. He was banned for life from securities trading by the time he was 19 or twenty for running a fraudulent “hedge fund” then moved on to conning MAGA land folks. Recently visited Russia to tweet and sing the praises of Putin, so hopefully the FBI asks about that as well when they are wringing him out over the rest of it. And you are correct, the dad is behind most of it.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                Vox’s David Robertson did a tweet thread on how kids like Wohl are v 2.0 of the right-wing osphere. Earlier generations knew and remember how to interact in the real world. These kids know nothing but constantly trolling and “owning the libs.”Report

              • He is about to get a rather intense education on the real world, I think.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well, he’s clearly wide open for a defamation suit. I mean nothing says “I knew this was a false claim” like “Paying someone to recite the charges I tell them”.

                The real kicker would be obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, as trying to pay people to lie to impede a US prosecutor’s ability to do his job is, well, obstructing justice. Or at least attempting to.

                Such a dumb pair of people, and one of them is tripling down on it already.

                You’d think the absolute rapid collapse of this story would point out how incredibly difficult it would be to actually hire people to press false charges (a common accusation on the right), but I suspect that will not be a lesson learned.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                A sign we live in a decadent and degenerate age.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              Who trusts a kid to invest for them? There are people who are kind of dim that see a kid in a nice suit with a flashy website that says he made lots of money and say “he must be some sort of genius to be really rich at his age.” They then trust him with his money.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I was aware of him for being often the first reply to Trump tweets.

        He reminds me of Casey Serin.Report

  26. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Mafia boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger was killed in prison hours after being transferred to a new one.

    This is something that would have been a major story in the 80’s. Maybe a hot one for a couple of days from the 90’s through whenever the Sopranos went off the air.

    Now? Feh. We won’t even remember this story by Thursday.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      It’s kind of weird that someone would bother to kill a 89 year old guy who had just been moved because his previous prison was medically insufficient. The Celestial Great Shank of Us All would have got him somewhat shortly, without any effort.

      Edit – I guess a man’s gotta have a code.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m wondering if the folks who approved the transfer were in on it. (Or, to be blunt, which of the folks who approved it were in on it.)

        Hours implies hella coordination.

        I mean, yeah, he left a lot of people out there with hard feelings. A huge subset of those folks have long memories. I don’t know the size of the subset of that subset that has connections to the prison, but I’m sure that it’s measured with “several” or larger.

        But hours?

        Maybe they’re relying on the fact that Whitey was so unsympathetic that they can trust the watcher watchers to turn a blind eye on this one.Report

  27. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I admit, on October 16th or 17th, I thought that the Democrats had once again shot themselves in the foot.

    The momentum seems to have shifted, though.

    We’ve still got six looooooooooong days between here and there. God only knows what the news story tomorrow will be.Report

  28. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Politico reports that Mueller might have subpoenaed Trump? Maybe?

    Gotta admit: making the subpoena officially public knowledge on the Monday before the election would be one hell of an October surprise. November. Whatever.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      It’s soooper speculative. Really just a wild guess. Mueller is not going to drop an Oct/Nov surprise. He has been keeping a highly buttoned down team. We’re not going to know squat until his report comes out and it, completely appropriately, wont’ happen until after the mid-terms.

      It took a failure by Comey, pressure by R’s in congress and a screwy situation for the last Nov surprise. But on the positive side, if i’m wrong about Mueller, we know that Oct and Nov surprises are meaningless and have no effects on elections.

      PS There actually was a recent lawsuit using the RICO statute filed against Trump and family. It hasn’t got much press since we are being invaded so hard it makes the war of 1812 and Red Dawn combined look a 5th grade band concert.Report

  29. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The first caravan thing ended when the Mexican government intervened.

    There is a second caravan in the news now. Trump has ordered troops to the border.

    Employment numbers are out. Unemployment is 3.7%.

    Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll shows Trump has 51% approval with likely voters and 47% disapproval.Report

  30. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Twitter is talking about how two planes collided over Ottawa.

    Checking the news seems to indicate that it was a smaller plane and a larger plane and the smaller one crashed into a field and the larger one made it safely to an airport.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I thought the plane crashing story would have legs and the “Guy on Saturday Night Live makes fun of veteran who lost his eye” would be a dead story by lunchtime.

      Golly, was *I* wrong.

      Anyway, Pete Davidson was in a News Update segment and made fun of a Republican running for office who happens to wear an eyepatch after losing an eye while serving in Afghanistan.

      Here’s the setup: Pete Davidson gave his first impressions of various candidates running in various races. A picture of Dan Crenshaw came up.

      “This guy is kind of cool, Dan Crenshaw. You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie. I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever. Whatever.”Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      In Ottawa? That’s, like, far far away across an ocean or something, isn’t it? Why would that be election cycle fodder?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I thought it was two, like, 747s that crashed into each other, mid-air when I first heard about it on twitter before doing any research.

        After doing research, I felt much better… but still. Two airplanes! Colliding!Report

  31. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Last little indicators coming in. Ezra Klein tweeted:

    I don't think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 5, 2018

    Politico published an article called “Did Beto Blow It?

    There seem to be pre-mortems.Report

      • Avatar KenB says:

        I basically understand the sentiment, but it’s silly to talk about a national popular vote in relation to the House — the voters aren’t voting just for “Generic R” vs “Generic D”, they’re voting for different specific individuals in different contexts. One candidate might be running unopposed, another might be in a tight 3-way race — it doesn’t make sense to just add up the votes overall and consider that total meaningful.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I disagree. Total vote count does show something. Each race does have it’s own peculiarities but over 538 districts those effects should disappear. Total vote gives a sense of what the majority wants. Same as looking at total in the prez election. It very much shows what most of the people want. That seems like data we should want to see. That doesn’t override the structure of our elections, but its still good to know.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Off the top of your head:

            1. Who won the Congressional Popular Vote in 2016?
            2. How many seats did they win/lose?
            3. Is this a problem?Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Off the top of my head unit: R’s got more votes and seats didn’t change that much.

              Problem: It depends on how much the ratio between votes and seats differ and how often the ratio is high. There will always been weird variance. But if the frequently the total votes doesn’t represent want then that suggests a problem. Remember official OT stats guy says gerrymandering has a real effect.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’re right about the popular vote. It was 63,173,815 to the democrats’ 61,776,554.

                Republicans lost 6 seats.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Yeah sounds right. My contention that numbers of votes should correlate pretty closely to percentage of who gets elected stands. It’s that whole legitimacy and democracy thing. And we do remember the numbers in the prez election. So that a heckva year for our democracy.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So if one district in one state goes 80-20% for one party and two other districts in other states go 51-49 for the other, what should happen?

                (Assume all districts are the same size.)Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Huh? We elect reps by vote in their district…right? So they win their district. That doesn’t mean we can’t look at total votes as another piece of data.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I didn’t ask what we do. I know what we do.

                I asked what we *SHOULD* do, given that there is now a question of legitimacy on the table.Report

          • Avatar KenB says:

            over 538 districts those effects should disappear

            Why? It’s not like this is a random distribution — there’s no a priori reason why the effects should average out.

            Not to mention that candidates in the same party are very different (as are their voters) from one state to the next. The sacrificial Republican candidate in my district here in CT has a platform that would look like a Dem platform in a typical Texas district, and no doubt there are examples of the reverse, mutatis mutandis. What sense does it make to combine the R votes in my district and the R votes in said Texas district as if they represented a consistent message from that portion of the electorate?Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Every place has weird local politics or an odd candidate. That is exactly the kind of stuff that evens out over a large sample. That is the point of large samples; one odd case here or there doesn’t matter.

              Why? It’s a bit of data. It’s not everything but it shows who large numbers of people are voting for. How can that not be something worth looking at. The parties are national. There are certainly local and state effects but there is just as certainly national level politics. (Trump is an issue, immigration, health care, etc)Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          In the Wisconsin gerrymander case, the Wisconsin Democrats concede that districts drawn to reflect some criteria favored by large majorities of both parties — preserve communities of interest, minimize splitting cities and counties — will give the Republicans a seven-percentage point advantage. That is, the Dems there will, on average, have to win 53.5-46.5 in order to win 50 of the 100 seats in the state’s lower chamber. Wisconsin’s urban/suburban/rural split is close to the national average, so it is unsurprising that Republicans enjoy a similar advantage in US House districts.Report

          • Avatar KenB says:

            It makes sense — my point was just that you have to show your work rather than pointing to the overall number and leaving it at that.

            FWIW, I found an article by Sean Trende from five years ago that makes some of the points I did, and also shows that the Democrats were on the plus side of the comparison for many years; but he does point to the urban/rural divide as a driver of the GOP advantage over the last decade or two. But his take on it is basically that everyone knows the rules of the game and the Democrats are just playing it poorly.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      Yeah, that was a very Politico type of Politico piece:

      “Republicans amazed that Democrat doesn’t follow their advice to beat a guy they themselves couldn’t figure out how to beat.”Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        It’s almost like every outlet has to churn out some piece today and every other darn thing has been written 98 times in the last week alone.Report

  32. Avatar Jaybird says:


    (And, if you don’t want to put yourself down for that, I’d like to see your current definitions of what a disappointing outcome would look like and what a really good outcome would look like. If your definition of a good outcome would be “Democrats pick up 33 seats” and the Democrats pick up 38 (or if they pick up 28), I find that before-the-election statement of good/disappointing a lot more interesting than statements of spiking the football/damage control after the fact).Report

    • Avatar Aaron David says:

      In the house, Democrats take 20 with an over/under of 5.

      Republicans pick up 2 in the Senate with an over under of 1.

      A variety of things will happen in the states.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        For what it’s worth, my over/under bandwidth is 10%. So if I predict, for example, 30 seats, I get to think “yeah, I nailed it” if I get 27 or 33. If I get 26 or 34, though, I think “I didn’t see that coming.”

        (For a handful of reasons, I’m more interested in state-level seat pickup and losses than national ones.)Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I don’t go changing to try to please trendlines, but for future personal reference, when I predicted a nine-seat majority for Ds, that’s a 31 seat gain. Future self will appreciate this.

      As far as disappointment, nobody should be disappointed that this election is over. Everyone should celebrate. I will be opening a few bottles of the 2018 Celebration Ale.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, jeez. My back has been in knots for weeks.

        This last month has been interminable. Just scrolling up and re-reading the news stories of the day was exhausting.

        The main takeaway that I want future historians digging through these comments to know: These last 30 days were nuts and exhausting.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      I’m not afraid that my favorite team will fail to beat the spread, or that I won’t get that foam finger of Boo-ya.

      My nation is walking down a very dark and terrible path to some uncertain but awful place. No matter what tomorrow brings, we will still be on that path, only perhaps with a checked stride, and maybe the beginnings of a turnaround.

      Almost half of my fellow citizens are deeply wedding to white supremacy. It is going to take at least a decade of sustained electoral losses before their party reforms itself.

      So really, tomorrow is one battle in a very long war.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        It’s not a beat the spread nor a foam finger of Boo-ya.

        It’s the “well, of course the democrats did well in the 2018 elections. Everybody knew they would do well” response following an outcome that would have been described as “pessimistic” during peak “blue wave”. (Or the flipside of there being a for real exceeds expectations blue wave and having the blue wave be dismissed by conservatives who said that everybody knew that the democrats would do well and historically the party out of party does well in the first election after a heavily contested presidential election during the new president’s first term.)

        It’s about writing down expectations beforehand so you aren’t lying to yourself after we open the box and find out whether the cat is alive or dead.Report

      • Avatar KenB says:

        Almost half of my fellow citizens are deeply wedd[ed] to white supremacy.

        It’s a curious thing — you, along with many liberals of my acquaintance, are so very determined to believe this bit of irrational partisan over-generalization and will defend your belief vigorously, even while being genuinely depressed and discouraged by it.

        If you want to be less discouraged, all you have to do is just recognize your biases and stop thinking the worst about the people in your outgroup. But for many, that’s apparently too high a price to pay.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:


          My “outgroup” are the people who watched Trump mock that disabled reporter, and laughed.
          The ones who nodded as he described Mexican immigrants as rapists;
          Who snickered as he bragged about harassing women;
          Who see a caravan of terrified refugees and urge us all to turn our backs on them and abandon them to whatever awful fate happens to them;

          These aren’t my biased opinions about these people, they are facts, facts that they themselves boast of.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @Chip That almost half of your fellow citizens fall into this outgroup, so defined, is nothing like a fact though. It’s a poorly supported opinion, at best.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              Of course, there are varying degrees of things.

              Some people eagerly commit awful acts; Some people assist; Some people witness and applaud; Some people turn a blind eye; Some people resist, but half heartedly; Some people resist but surrender when it gets unpleasant; Some resist with vigor.Report

          • Avatar KenB says:

            Like I said, even though this belief generates some unpleasant emotions, your first reaction is to defend it rather than question it. It’s interesting, no?Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              What is it that I should be questioning?

              That he, and they, said and did all these things?
              Those are just objective facts.

              That I should find those facts deplorable?

              I’m honestly unsure of what your objection here is.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                That I should find those facts deplorable?

                Yes. You should find those things to be largely irrelevant and immaterial, and frankly detrimental to your solidarity and citizenship in America, which has a federal government whose legislative and executive branches are controlled, at least nominally, by the Republican Party. Therefore, in furtherance of your interest in the success of America, you should invest yourself toward the success of the various Republicans in those roles.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I don’t recall you expressing such sentiments back in 2008-2010. As I recall you expressed almost the opposite ones. Wonder what was different back then?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Nothing, in fact that was a specific point of emphasis in our correspondence during that period, wherein like some other liberals, you were upset that Sen Mitch McConnell was quoted as understanding his role was to ensure that Mr Obama was a one-term President.

                It is entirely consistent with the respect of Americans toward the Presidency that we can oppose the _actions_ of the President, and oppose the _reelection_ of the President. On the other hand, for anybody somehow associated with the Right in America who is inclined to say something like “Obama isn’t my President” (during his term of office), of which there were a few, those people can fuck right off, and I can promise you I made that known whenever I heard it.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Ah so it basically boils down to saying that you can oppose the President, their party and everything they do so long as you don’t claim they aren’t President or something? That’s a big climb down but I’m happy to accept it. Did you think Trump should have fished off when he was on his Obama birther kick?

                Anyhow I don’t see how that’s germane to the Dems since they haven’t generally claimed Trump isn’t President or any of the like nor do most liberals do so either.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I don’t think this is a climbdown at all, certainly it wasn’t meant to be on my part. I think your examples were trying to conflate apples and oranges from the get-go.

                The things Chip is talking about upthread that I’m criticizing him for aren’t about governance at all, they are about holding on to stupid grievances over random crap regarding his political adversaries among Americans at large.

                Ie, the Americans are so racist, white supremacist, blah blah, whatever, that the regular back-and-forth of politics somehow doesn’t apply. That’s what I’m calling bullshit on.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                “Mrs. Lincoln, you shouldn’t focus on the largely irrelevant and immaterial unpleasantness, and focus instead on the wonderful orchestra!”Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Well yeah, except that the things you were talking about are not the same thing as the assassination of Lincoln. And the fact that you tend to rhetorically retreat towards ridiculous bullshit, in spite of the fact that other commenters make legitimate attempts to clarify the difference, should be giving you occasion to question your own judgment or your antagonism toward your fellow Americans, or both.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          If you want to be less discouraged, all you have to do is just recognize your biases and stop thinking the worst about the people in your outgroup.

          Good advice. Henceforth, I’ll refrain from viewing members of my outgroup as the type of folks who’d snatch infants from their mothers and place them in foster care without any record keeping to ensure that the separation is permanent.Report

        • Rephrase it:

          Half of my country’s major political parties are deeply wedded to white supremacy.

          That’s completely true.Report

          • Avatar KenB says:

            It’s not well-defined enough to be true or false. You can make an argument for it if you’re inclined to. My question is, why are so many liberals inclined to, when the outcome is to be so distressed about the state of the country? Being more charitable to your fellow Americans also means having less reason to be so grim — it’s win-win!Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        At some low moments I’ve believed some bad things about half of the voters on the basis of some presidential election results. But the people aren’t bimodal. There are people who vote differently than me for reasons I wouldn’t have thought of. The other guy isn’t my exact opposite; we may have voted for some of the same candidates. We’ve almost certainly voted the same way at some point. Remember, each person has different criteria, and weights those criteria differently.Report

  33. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Since Jaybird likes poetry, I’ve been thinking about Auden’s September 1, 1939 a lot over the past year:

    September 1, 1939
    W. H. Auden, 1907 – 1973
    I sit in one of the dives
    On Fifty-second Street
    Uncertain and afraid
    As the clever hopes expire
    Of a low dishonest decade:
    Waves of anger and fear
    Circulate over the bright
    And darkened lands of the earth,
    Obsessing our private lives;
    The unmentionable odour of death
    Offends the September nightReport

    • Avatar Koz says:

      Obviously the historical circumstances are different between 1939 and now, but maybe like some of you I am disheartened by the cacophony and antagonism among Americans. There’s going to be some things where because of their nature any sort of accommodation or compromise is difficult. But not everything is like that. I can think of a few things, at least a half dozen or so, where there are some ideological priors involved not necessarily very strong ones, and we could come to an accommodation between us if we were talking with each other, but we’re not. So the deep state just runs things on autopilot according to what it wants, or one or two particular deep staters want, etc, but that’s not necessarily helping us.

      To that end, and with the understanding that I have no special knowledge of what’s going to happen today, I would sincerely encourage all the Americans here to go out and support the Republicans today. It is through the Republican party that we can create dial down the resistance and aggravation and actually have the chance to heal ourselves in towards what we can hope to be the best interest of all of us.

      Be a good person. Be an American. Vote Republican.Report

      • Be a good person. Be an American. Vote Republican.

        It’s like relativity, causality, and FTL. You can’t have all three.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          They’re more like quarks. They have to exist together or they can’t exist at all.

          Libs have a very important role to play in towards the betterment of America. But at this point it is beyond plain that that role is not about the decisionmaking authority associated with political power. Once libs get beyond that, we’ll all be better off. Including libs, maybe even especially libs.Report

  34. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    After 11 people were murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the GOP didn’t even slow down spreading their anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Scum.Report