Saturday, November 12, 2016

Respecting the office of the presidency

This is going to be a real test of our principles.   A test of the principle of honesty and candor vs. our tradition of respecting the office of the President of the United States.  So what then if this man was the chief cheerleader for years of trying to delegitimize the man he will be replacing?   What respect did he have then for the office that he now will hold himself?

Here's how Huffington Post's political editor Ryan Grim explains their decision about the footer they've been running at the end of any article about Donald Trump, which they will no longer do.

"Early in this election campaign, we began appending an editor’s note to our coverage of Donald Trump, highlighting his racism, misogyny and xenophobia.  He made no secret of any of it, and he was elected president anyway. That doesn’t make it any less true.

"But throughout the entire administration of Barack Obama, a segment of the Republican coalition, led by Trump, questioned the very legitimacy of his presidency, breaking from a long-held American tradition.

"We’re not going to do the same. Whether we like it or not ― and let’s continue to be honest, we don’t ― he won the election. It was a win that was at once foreseeable ― yet one we failed badly to see.

"Where we find fault in how Trump governs, we won’t hesitate to call it out. If he encroaches on the norms of our democracy, if he targets minority groups or other vulnerable elements of the population, we won’t hesitate to say so loudly and clearly. If he follows his worst instincts and caters to the klatch of white supremacists who endorsed him, we won’t flinch from calling him racist. But we have hope that the man we saw on the trail at his worst moments is not the man who will enter the White House.

'If Trump can reverse the economic inequality he decried during his campaign, bring back manufacturing jobs, find a way to give people better healthcare for less money, invest in infrastructure to stimulate the economy and otherwise make the country great, we’ll cheer him on. We’ll find out."  -- Ryan Grim, Huffington Post.

It will challenge me to do the same, but I think it is right.  I will be critical of his actions and say when I disagree.   I will not hesitate to criticize the appointments he makes.   But it seems only fair to give him the chance to show us a different Donald Trump than he did to win the election.  Not only because it seems fair to do that, but because it will ultimately be in all our best interests if we try to help him make America better than it is.


PS:  I wrote the above and then watched some news shows on MSNBC.   I have to say that, I had been encouraged by some indications that Trump was beginning to take the office seriously and modifying his attitude and behavior and accepting help from people experienced in government.

However, there is troubling news that he is again sending out inflammatory tweets, calling the peaceful marchers in  their third night "professional protesters" and implying that the media is behind it.   Until he takes the high road, recognizes the divisiveness and the fear that his election has caused, and offers conciliatory words to bring the country together -- then he is failing already as a leader.

It is encouraging on the one hand that he has turned the transition over to Mike Pence (not that I like his policies, but at least he knows how Washington works).   But it is troubling that he has put his three children on the "executive committee" of the transition team, while at the same time turning over control of his business to these same three children.   That is not putting it into the blind trust that is the usual way of a president's handling of his finances while in office.   That is just one half-step away from his continuing to run it himself;  plus it raises the question of whether they are themselves part of the government if they are on the transition team.   So there already are reasons to worry about how this is going to go.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Clinton and Obama showed us how to put political rancor behind us. But will it last?

President-Elect Donald Trump met with President Obama for 90 minutes in the Oval Office Thursday, and afterwards both spoke of moving beyond past political rhetoric.   Trump surrogates have also begun walking back some of the extreme things he has said.

I was also encouraged (a little) to learn that the transition planning has been going on, not in the campaign itself (with the Alt-Right crowd) but with experienced Washington insiders who have roots in previous Republican administrations.

This is the marvel of the peaceful transition of power in a constitutional republic as we have.   Not only do the people get to choose their president, but being elevated as leader of all the people tends to have a sobering effect.   One is surrounded, as well, by traditions and professionals who transcend political parties.  

Huffington Post's senior political reporter Amanda Terkel wrote: 
"Top supporters of President-elect Donald Trump threw cold water on his campaign promise to put Hillary Clinton in jail, saying it was time to unite the country and move forward."   Chris Christie on NBC's "Today" show emphasized the "enormously gracious conversation" that Trump and Hillary Clinton had with each other on election night.  Christie seemed confident that Trump would take seriously the job of uniting the country.

Rudi Giuliani addressed the question of Trump's rally cry of putting Clinton in jail., saying that is “a tough one that should be given a lot of thought and shouldn’t be an off-the-cuff answer."   Saying that it should be reviewed to see "how bad is the evidence."  Giuliani, rumored to be Trump's choice for Attorney General, then said:  “If it isn’t as bad as some of the exaggerators think it is, then maybe the best thing to do is forget about it and move on. If it is really bad, then somebody’s got to look at it who is independent.”   Giuliani also said on Fox News that he was "uncomfortable with the idea of going after people in the legal system for political reasons."

Terkel also noted: ". . . since his win, Trump has been more conciliatory.  Quoting from his victory speech:  “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. . . .  I mean that very sincerely. Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together.  To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

Terkel pointed out that the Trump team "has also been walking back some of his other big, popular promises. Giuliani said Trump will first tackle tax reform and that building a giant wall on the border with Mexico will 'take awhile.'  The promise to enact a ban on Muslims from entering the United States has also now disappeared from his website."

So what can we reasonably conclude and expect?    My predictions are not noted for reliability (after my dramatic failure predicting who would win the presidency), but for what it's worth:   I'm guessing that President Trump is going to be far less of an extremist and loose cannon than was Candidate Trump.   That will still put him in conservative Republican policy positions on most issues -- but not all.    In fact, he's far less conservative than either Ted Cruz or Mike Pence.   And far more pragmatic.

Perhaps we should take seriously that pithy adage that's been making the rounds.   I don't know who originally said it, but it goes something like this:   "The mistake people make about Trump is in taking him literally but not seriously.   You should take him seriously, but not literally."


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Who is President Trump going to be?

Donald Trump has been given great responsibilities and great power by the voters of the United States.  This campaign has not given us much reason to think that he can rise above petty politics and be the better version of himself that the office demands.

But the future of this country depends on him doing just that.   One thing that we do know is that throwing insults at him is not the way, because -- as he told us early on -- his mode of operation is:   "When somebody hits me, I hit back harder."   And he has demonstrated that over and over.

For him to have any semblance of a successful presidency -- completely apart from the specific policy differences we have with him -- he will have to get over the idea that he knows more than the experts.   He needs to accept help from good advisers, to learn from them, to value their advice, to have people around him that will tell him what he needs to hear rather than just what he wants to hear.   And he must humble himself enough to listen to them.

And we have to do our part too.   I was very much tempted to re-post something someone sent me that purported to be a very damning, cynical statement from Trump back in 1998, about running for president and fooling gullible listeners to a certain TV network.   I wanted to believe it true and fling it in his face and, even more, fling it in the face of all those people who naively voted for him, thinking they could believe what he said.  But I decided to fact check it first.   I learned that it is a fake that's been circulating around Facebook and the internet and has been thoroughly debunked by Factcheck as well as the magazine that it supposedly appeared in.  I'm glad I checked first, instead of piling on.

That's not to say that I think the gist of the story is untrue.  I do think that Trump and some FoxNews anchors have told lies, repeated them over and over, and that their loyal watchers believe them.    He is very much a con man or, as Fareed Zakaria has called him, "a bullshit artist."

What I'm talking about here is my attitude -- wanting to take this "proof" that his candidacy was all along a con game -- and keep that meme going.   The Factcheck brought me up short and gave me a moment of reflection.   It's time to let go of that, no matter if it is true.   It wouldn't change the election outcome.  Let's start a fresh page with him in a new role with new expectations.   Let's see what he can do with it now that his election is a done deal.  Let's see if there is something other than the bullshit artist in Trump.

Hillary  Clinton said it well in her concession speech Wednesday morning:  "We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead."

I'm talking to myself mostly.   I think it's time to stop denigrating Trump and throwing all of his own words back at him.   Let's see if he can put his own hateful rhetoric behind him and begin anew.   That doesn't mean that it was not true, but the time for that is over -- at least until we see if he can respond to respect with respect.   Respect for the office of president, even if we don't respect him.

I understand that there are protest marches going on in cities all over the country -- and so far they seem to be peaceful.    That's fine.   I hope they can continue to be peaceful, because it won't serve anyone's good purpose to turn violent or to have outsiders come in to stir up violence.   And people need a way to express their displeasure with this outcome.

I realize also that I can sit here safely in my own home, can afford to be calm and reflective, unlike some who would be more directly affected by the alarming things Trump has said he would do.   People are very afraid.   Muslims are wondering if they should leave the country.   Undocumented workers from Mexico worry that they may be separated from their families.  African-Americans fear going backwards in policing tactics that threaten them.  I understand those fears and the reasons for them.   What I'm trying to think about here is the possibility that Donald Trump really won't do all those things -- or can't do some of them -- that he's been saying.   That some of that was the bullshit artist talking.

Just to be clear:  opposing his policies is another thing than what I'm talking about here:  turning to a new page on the rhetoric.  It's going to be a very discouraging four years as a Congress and President bring changes that undo most of what President Obama accomplished.   That's going to be bad, maybe very bad, even dangerous.  But I'm talking about something else tonight, about Donald Trump, the man who will be our president, whether we like it or not.

This is not just a Pollyanna thing.  It is in our own interest to help him unite us.   We have to be bigger than the Republicans have been these last eight years, trying to make President Obama fail.   Bigger than Trump himself was in challenging Obama's very legitimacy as a birthright citizen.

Let's start by giving Trump space to be his better self . . . and -- dare we hope -- to grow in the office?

In fact, we may get an early, quick read on that in how he speaks about these protests.   First, he should take them as a serious expression of the opposition -- who, he said in his acceptance speech, he will also be the president for.    Does he recognize their fears and that he has given them reason to be afraid?  Will he say something to reassure them?  If he talks about them the way he has talked about Black Lives Matter protests, then the gloves are off.   It's his first chance to show whether he has it in him to unite our diverse and divided country.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

One chuckle amid the tears and gloom

In introducing Sec. Clinton for what is being called the "classiest" concession speech in history, VP nominee Sen. Tim Kaine quoted William Faulkner:

They killed us but they ain’t whupped us yet.”

Or actually in Faulkner's more accurate rendition of the language as his characters spoke it:
"They mought of kilt us but they ain't whupped us yet."

Among other feelings . . . shame.

This morning, I woke up with an awful feeling.   After a moment to clear the sleep from my mind, I realized what the feeling was:    SHAME.

I have said some extraordinarily judgmental and damning things about this man who would be president.   I have no shame at having said those things, because they are all still true.

And yet We, the People elected him anyway.   That's the shame I feel.   That we would elect someone to be the most powerful leader in the world who is so unqualified for that trust and responsibility.

We can only hope that Donald Trump has enough self-awareness and humility to realize that the awesome responsibility of being president is beyond his capacities -- and that he will rise above retributive politics enough to choose his advisers wisely -- and then listen to them.

Above any partisan politics or personal retribution, we must cherish the essential democratic principle of peaceful transfer of power to the leader chosen by the people.  And then work together for the good of all.

So far, the right things have been said by President-Elect Trump, Sec. Clinton, and President Obama.   Trump pledged to be president for every citizen and to unite our divided country.   Clinton said, "We must accept this result.   Donald Trump  is going to be president.  We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead."

Amid a sickening grief and shame, I am trying to hold on to the hope that democracy and decency will prevail.  Ah, hey, Donald Trump is such an unpredictable performer, perhaps he will emerge as a closeted liberal.


Shock . . . disbelief . . . and then grief.

Donald Trump just pledged to be president for all of the people in our country.   He was gracious and respectful of Hillary Clinton and praised her for a hard fought campaign.   He spoke about now needing to unify our country so that we can bring together our divided country    

That's a slim ray of hope in a very dark moment.


Shock . . . disbelief . . . and then grief.

Donald Trump just pledged to be president for all of the people in our country.   He was gracious and respectful of Hillary Clinton and praised her for a hard fought campaign.   He spoke about now needing to unify our country so that we can bring together our divided country    

That's a slim ray of hope in a very dark moment.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Prediction the outcome -- Hillary wins. Maybe bigly

As I usually do, I'll be watching the election returns with my family -- and away from my computer.   So I'll post my post-election reactions a day later.    But I'm confident enough to make this prediction:

Hillary Clinton will win the presidency with at least 273 electoral votes (270 needed).   She can get there even if she loses Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa -- and if she wins either New Hampshire or Nevada.  If she loses all six of those states, or a comparable number, then it's possible  for Trump to win.

Or to put it another way:    Trump would have to win:  all the "comfortably red" and the "lean red" states;   plus all of the battleground states:  Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire.  No polls suggests that he can do that.

In reality, I am expecting that Clinton will actually win with at least 323 electoral votes -- and perhaps more than that.    To get 323, she would need another 50 EVs from the battleground states.   And she has several different pathways to do get 323, unlike Trump who would have to win them all, just to get 270.

To get that supermajority -- dare we call it a landslide? -- Clinton could get there by adding Nevada (6), Florida (29), and North Carolina (15).   Or substitute Ohio (18) for NC and Iowa (8) for NV (6).   Or add states listed as "lean red" but would be possible if Clinton wins in a landslide:   Arizona (11), Georgia (16).    Take all of those and she would have as many as 426.    Stop !!!!   Let's don't tempt fate to deflate our optimism.   It could turn out to be very close.   But Clinton will win.  

I know there were last minutes polls suggesting worry about New Hampshire and Michigan and Florida.   But, with the big turnout of Latinos in Nevada (6 EVs), she's probably got that one in her safe basket;   so she could afford to lose NH (4 EVs).  The Latino turnout was also huge in Florida.

But , , , we'll see.   I'm paying little attention to polls in this last week;    they tend to be all over the map this close to such an unpredictable election.


PS:   We'll debate for a long time what lasting effects Trump's candidacy will have had on our country.   I suggest there will be at least one word added to the language:   "Bigly."

Hillary has already won -- in Guam

The island of Guam is a U.S. territory;  it's people are U.S. citizens who have the right to vote in our presidential election.   However, because they have no representation in the Electoral College, theirs is a straw vote that does not count in the final tally.

Nevertheless, Guam's vote gets headlines because their time zone puts them 15 hours ahead of the U.S.   It's already tomorrow there. Guam bills itself as "Where America's Day Begins."

Besides, they open their polls are midnight, so they already have their results.  Hillary Clinton was the big winner with 71.6% to Donald Trump's 24.2%.


"If his closest advisers don't trust him to tweet . . ."

Three Short Posts Today

The Clinton campaign held it's big rally last night in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.   In this order, the following heavy hitters spoke:   Chelsea Clinton, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama.  And then Hillary Clinton.  It was great.

There was a bit of levity that carried a deadly serious message.   President Obama ticked off all the reasons that Donald Trump should not be elected president.   And it included this:

"Over the weekend his campaign took away his Twitter account . . . because he is erratic.  If his closest advisers don't trust him to tweet, why would we trust him with the nuclear codes?"


Need one more reason? Here's a bunch.

Just heard this on NPR, as if in answer to my wondering yesterday who Chris Christie would be picking for the cabinet and White House top staff for a President Trump (perish the thought).

This may be a smoke screen or a trial balloon, but here's what they said.   Secretary of State Newt Gingrich;  Attorney General Rudi Giuliani;  Chief of Staff Reince Priebus;  and Secretary of Treasury Karl Mnuchin, his finance chairman, who has extensive Wall Street connections, having been at Goldman Sachs for 17 years.

This is either rewarding loyalty of people who stuck with him through the campaign -- or difficulty finding takers for the jobs.   I'm almost sure it will become moot, once the electoral votes begin rolling in for HRC tonight.


Last minute fact-checking the Trump campaign

1,  Donald Trump has made "trade deals" one of the key issues of his campaign:   a promise to renegotiate all the "bad" trade deals that are robbing people of their jobs and sending them overseas.   He promises that he will "bring back your jobs" and make "the greatest deals."   He'll stop all the companies moving to Mexico.   And he will restore the coal mining industry, the steel industry.

Those are empty promises.  Coal mining is not coming back because cleaner, cheaper energy is now available, and robots are taking over some of the jobs that remain.  The same for the steel industry.  What is needed, which Clinton is focusing on, is bringing in new kinds of jobs and helping people get trained to do them.

As to job loss and bad trade deals.   That's not it either, and now there is data to prove it.   A survey at Ball State University found that trade accounted for only 13% of lost factory jobs, while the vast majority of them -- 86% -- were taken by robots and other factors that reduced the need for human labor.  The tough question for the future will be:   what do we do with people who are no longer needed in the labor market?

2.   There was an overwhelming turnout of mostly Latino voters in Clark County (Reno), Nevada on the last day of early voting.   The head of the state GOP complained that election officials kept polls open until 10 pm "to accommodate certain people."   That is a false charge.   It is customary, all over the country, in every election, to allow everyone who is in line when the polls close to vote.   So, they don't "stay open" in the sense of letting more people get in line;  but they do allow those in line at closing time to cast their vote.  Clark County polls closed on time;  it just took until 10 pm for all of them to get through.

As Ronald Reagan would say, "There you go again."   When Trump is losing, he whines.   He blames somebody for . . .  something.   Get ready for charges that the election is rigged.  He's already been saying it -- until the FBI started actually rigging it in his favor.   Then he kept quiet -- until Comey cleared Clinton once again.   Now, again, it rigged.  In the Trump lexicon, if he loses, it was rigged.   If he wins, "great expression of the people's will."


Monday, November 7, 2016

More about the FBI's blunder and ? repair ?

We now know that some 650,000 emails on Weiner's computer have been checked by FBI teams working round the clock -- and they found nothing significant.   Most turned out to be duplicates;   others were personal.   Though I would have been blunter than the understated message, I agree with Justice Department spokesman and Clinton supporter Matthew Miller's Twitter message: 

"Congrats to the FBI for working so hard to clear up the suspicion needlessly created.   Next time, maybe just stick to the rule though?"

Right.   If Comey had been willing to risk his vaunted reputation for integrity just a bit and waited, the whole thing could have been avoided.   Now it's done great harm to the FBI's reputation.  And we can't know what damage was done to the Clinton campaign.

Maybe none.  Maybe it energized her voters and spurred the unprecedented early votes.  What we do know is that Donald Trump and his surrogates have spent nine days exaggerating and fabricating a smoking gun out of this much ado about nothing.   But . . . that's nothing new.


PS:   Trump's in full rage/whine/blame mode, saying this just proves the system is rigged.   Surrogate Gen. Flynn says that it would be impossible to review that many emails in such a short time.    That shows his ignorance.   Edward Snowden, among others, knows how to sort out the duplicates;   he tweeted out a response that it could be done "in minutes to hours."

For anyone still considering voting for Trump

Honestly, I doubt anyone reading ShrinkRap is still undecided about whom to vote for.   But, just in case, let me add one final reason not to vote for Donald Trump -- a reinforcement that he is unfit temperamentally to handle the crises of the office.  It's been remarked before, but an incident at a Trump rally in Reno, NV on Saturday reminded us of (1) how good the Secret Service really is and how much we need to show them our appreciation.

But (2) it also reminded us of how reactive and how quick to escalate a crisis the Trump team is.   To be fair, I thought Trump himself kept his cool in this particular situation, and I'll acknowledge that.   But his team didn't -- and he apparently did nothing to guide them otherwise, even in calmer moments later.

Here's what happened.   Trump was speaking to a crowd at a Reno rally, when suddenly there was a commotion in the crowd;  and two Secret Service men rushed to protect Trump and get him off stage.   Later he returned and reassured people, saying:  “Nobody said it was going to be easy for us but we will never be stopped. Never, ever.”   And then he thanked the Secret Service, saying they are "fantastic" and "don't get enough credit" -- before launching back into his "crooked Hillary" tirade.

So what prompted this?    A man in the crowd held up a sign that said "Republicans Against Trump."   According to him in a later interview with the Guardian, he was just standing there holding his sign as a quiet protest, when some others in the crowd started kicking and punching him and wrestled him to the ground.  Someone had yelled, "Gun."  

Well, no, there was no gun.   Police searched the area and found no gun;  they questioned the man, did a background check, and eventually released him.   In a live interview on tv afterward, the man, Austyn Crites, who is from Reno, said that he is a registered Republican but cannot support Trump.   He just wanted to come and express his disagreement by holding his sign.   He did not try to stir up the crowd or make any trouble.    He seemed to be a well-educated, articulate man, not the type we often see getting physical at Trump rallies.

And what was the Trump campaign's response?   First, Trump himself encourages this kind of fighting.   In earlier rallies, he has told supporters to attack protesters;  he has himself yelled "through them out."   He leads chants of "lock her up."   It's true, his new campaign team has gotten him to tone it down, but the crowds know what he wants to hear from them.

Soon after the event, both the campaign's social media director and Don Trump, Jr. tweeted out that it had been "an assassination attempt."   At a later rally in Denver, the introducing speaker said someone had tried to "murder" Trump in Reno.  Sunday morning, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway went on FoxTV to declare the sign-holder  a Democrat and "probably a plant."

These are the people Trump chooses to be his team -- and they are the presentable ones.   Behind the scenes are the Breitbart crowd:   Steve Bannon, who headed Breitbart News;  David Bossie, who made a career of digging up anti-Clinton conspiracy theories, whose anti-Clinton film led to the Citizens United decision (it was basically a free-speach issue for the court.)   And lurking around as informal advisers are the Alt-Right Roger Stone and the man who wrote Clinton Cash, both of whom know no bounds when it comes to wild accusations and conspiracy theories.

And then there's Chris Christie who, were it not for his own political and possibly legal troubles at home over Bridgegate, would have been either Trump's Vice President or his Attorney General.  Instead he is heading the Trump Transition Team -- the important job that does all the preliminary work in choosing a Trump Cabinet and a Trump White House staff.   

This is the same Chris Christie, who has just seen the conviction in federal court of three of his choices to help run his administration as governor.   They went down as the sacrificial lambs to Christie's vindictive abuse of power in the Bridgegate scandal.  But they are also the people Christie chose to be his staff.

So . . . who could we expect to be there just outside the Oval Office or inside the Situation Room when a President Trump faces a crisis . . . and needs knowledged-based advice and calm, wise judgment?   So who would Christie choose for Trump's staff?

Please, folks -- if anyone is wavering -- use that thinking organ that's located inside your skull. 


Sunday, November 6, 2016

FLASH !!!! Comey clears Clinton in emails trove

FBI Director James Comey has issued a new letter to Congress, clearing Hillary Clinton in this new trove of emails discovered on Anthony Weiner's computer.

"Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton. I am very grateful to the professionals at the FBI for doing an extraordinary amount of high-quality work in a short period of time."

This is good.   But it also underscores the damage his previous letter did.  It's been nine days of uncertainty -- for anyone to whom it mattered -- and during that time, millions of people have cast their votes in early voting.

Theoretically it could have swung the election, although that's unlikely given that people who seem to favor Clinton have been voting in proportionally higher numbers in the record-breaking early voting.

It does still leave the problem of Comey's decision, as well as the partisan behavior in the FBI ranks, in serious question.   If the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform ever needs to investigate a governmental agency, this is it.


What's going on behind the scenes at the FBI?

Yochi Dreazen, writing for the Vox news website, Nov. 5, 2016, made a good effort at explaining what's going on behind the scenes at the FBI.   The bottom line is this:   it's a mess of factions, political interference, and questionable guidance coming down from the top.   Here's some of what Dreazen wrote:

“. . . .  'Comey has unleashed a lot of the bad behavior by people down the line by signaling that it’s okay to treat Hillary Clinton differently,' says Matthew Miller, a Democrat who formerly served as a spokesperson for the Justice Department. 'There certainly seem to be FBI agents who have taken a really hard partisan line and are just kind of blinded by their anger and hatred toward Hillary Clinton.'

"The recent series of FBI leaks are particularly worrisome because they raise the prospect of a state security agency equipped with the full resources and investigative might of the federal government working to interfere in the elections. The FBI is so powerful — it can, with court approval, issue subpoenas, tap phones, intercept emails and conduct round-the-clock surveillance — that even a small coterie of its agents can find ways of influencing the political process. . . .  

It’s impossible to know how many agents support Trump, and the anti-Clinton leaks are likely the result of only a tiny minority of the bureau. Still, the fact that a small fraction of the FBI’s workforce has felt free to take steps that could impact the election is profoundly alarming. Comey stumbled by personally entering the political fray. His bigger mistake may have come from signaling to other agents that they could do the same. . . . 

"The FBI chief’s decision has also spurred a sustained counterattack from the Clinton campaign, which has repeatedly pointed out that Comey took the step despite having earlier argued against publicly accusing Russia of hacking a variety of Democratic targets. He claimed this was to avoid influencing the race by bolstering Clinton’s contention that Moscow was trying to help Trump win the presidency. In a conference call with reporters Monday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Comey’s reluctance to name Russia was 'a blatant double standard.'

"Outside experts on the FBI say Comey has made a serious and perhaps irreparable mistake.  'His actions were unprecedented, unethical, shocking, and have apparently led to chaos within the bureau, an unprecedented number of leaks, and chaos in our election cycle,' said Douglas Charles, a history professor at Penn State.

"Charles, the author of a book about J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, said Comey has a long history with the Clintons that may have left him with a 'personal grudge or underlying or subsumed political motive' to try to derail Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

"He noted that Comey had helped probe the 1990s-era Whitewater real estate scandal, which focused heavily on Hillary Clinton’s financial dealings and willingness to fully cooperate with investigators, and oversaw the Marc Rich prosecution in the late 1980s. (Comey said he was “stunned” by Bill Clinton’s decision to pardon the financier.)

"The FBI chief’s defenders say that Comey felt he had no choice but to send the letter because he’d promised to keep lawmakers abreast of any new developments in the email server case, and the discovery of Clinton-related emails on the laptop of the estranged husband of Clinton confidante Huma Abedin certainly qualified.

"They also argue that Comey would have been accused of covering up for Clinton if he sat on the information until after the election. One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” told NBC News that Comey had sent the letter 'out of an abundance of caution.'

"Comey has had a long reputation for personal integrity and nonpartisanship, and we may never definitively know why he chose to publicly bash Clinton’s handling of her emails even though he said he’d found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing; decided to testify on Capitol Hill about the probe and give lawmakers access to the bureau’s investigative files; and opted to ignore the wishes of his bosses and release his new letter.

"But his actions appear to have triggered a cascade of other anti-Clinton leaks by agents who, rightly or wrongly, believe he gave them the green light."

That is far from the totality of Yochi Dreazen's lengthy article.   Nor is it the totality of the story of FBI interference in the election.   Dreazen did not touch on the Rudi Giuliani - FBI connection and the direct leaking to the Trump campaign.   It's clear from what Rudi told Fox News hosts that he personally knew well in advance, as did the Trump campaign, that Comey was going to write the letter informing congress about the Huma Abedin emails on husband Anthony Weiner's computer.    And Rudi gleefully bragged, "Of course I knew."  In fact, he said, "I thought it was going to be about three or four weeks ago."

At least he's savvy enough, as a former prosecutor himself, to know that he should not imply that FBI agents were talking directly to him.   So he explained that he has a lot of connections with former FBI agents, and they talk to him.   Well, of course, we can infer that these former agents still have friends who are active agents who talk to them.   So it's a clear once-removed conduit of leaks.   Current FBI agent to former agent to Rudi to Trump.

From other sources, the pro-Trump faction in the FBI -- some of them quite fanatical, it seems, one of them repeating the line that Hillary is the "anti-Christ" -- is largely in the New York district branch, which Giuliani has long been associated with.

It is true, as discussed here a couple of days ago, that James Comey did insist that the FBI not be listed, along with the NSA and Homeland Security, in announcing our certainty that the Russian government was behind the email hacks of several Democratic entities.   He stated, in early October, that it was too close to the election.  So the announcement was made by the NSA and Homeland Security, omitting any mention of the FBI.  But the end of October was not too close to put out innuendo -- not evidence or even direct knowledge, mind you -- about new Clinton emails.   Is that a double standard?

Even the great Boy Scout James Comey seems to make decisions that are influenced by his grudges and strong feelings on controversial topics.   Just as Antonin Scalia was, even though he would never entertain the idea.

Those who proclaim their purity are more likely to be blind to their impurities.