Northern lights on US election V : does Comey’s latest announcement cancel Bill Maher’s right-wing coup?

Nov 7th, 2016 | By Dominic Berry | Category: In Brief

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2 AM. The phone rang. It was the doctor. “You’re supposed to be the humour guy,” he said. “Do something humourous about this US election. It’s killing us.”

He went on : “I watched Bill Maher Friday night. President Obama — just on tape but of course impressive. Then a somewhat Canadian panel : Martin Short, Jennifer Granholm, and David Frum (a Republican who is finally voting for Hillary). Interesting talk.”

Then the doctor’s tone changed: “They also tried some comedy. But Maher is full of anxiety that Trump might actually win. And so am I — and everyone else here. We need lighter moments to reach Tuesday night intact. And … well you’re supposed to be the humour guy.”

The phone call ended, and I started thinking. I don’t know that I can think of anything humourous right now either. I saw Bill Maher Friday night too. In some ways I agree with him. It’s too serious for humour at this point.

Personally, I now cannot stand to see or hear Donald Trump or anything about him on TV. And I was almost more distressed when I read Éric Grenier’s Saturday report up here in the true north :

“As of Friday’s Presidential Poll Tracker update, Clinton has the support of 47.4 per cent of decided voters, compared to 44.5 per cent for Trump. That margin of 2.9 points is far more comfortable than the 1.9-point margin she had in the polls at the beginning of this week.”

Well … yes. This suggests Hillary will still get by in the end. But the thought that as much as 45% of decided voters are finally prepared to vote for Donald Trump is alarming at best, even if Ms Clinton wins. (And again even if she wins, Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight website now has the Senate-control chances a mere 56.7% Democrats versus 43.3% Republicans — though the numbers here do change quite often still. UPDATE, Noon, Monday, November 7 : And now it’s worse for the cause of progress :  Democrats 45.7% versus Republicans 54.3% !!!! Good luck with Supreme Court appointments etc. )

Then there’s Trump’s last-minute psychotic ranting about how the FBI is going to charge Hillary with heinous crimes if she is elected.  What can anyone say? Beyond “how does he (and his friends in the FBI) get away with it ????” Again, again, and again …

On Saturday night MSNBC was reporting that some recent poll had found 51% of Americans believe Hillary Clinton has done something illegal. What a fraud! I don’t believe Ms Clinton is perfect. But I don’t think she has done anything at all illegal. That is a status much closer to Mr. Trump, who believes that it is just good business to do all kinds of corrupt and dubious things. And as for what is going on these days in the FBI …

Bill Maher’s ultimate fear on Friday night was that some kind of right-wing coup is now underway in the USA. His guests seemed to feel this was going a little too far. But a side of me could easily enough share his fear. Many strange things have certainly been happening on the US TV news.

The biggest trouble right now may be that, if you live in any kind of English language environment, anywhere in the global village, you just can’t escape the 2016 US election … with all its troubling doom and gloom.

(See this from polling guru Nate Silver, eg : “In some ways, our fundamental hypothesis about this campaign is that uncertainty is high, with both a narrow Trump win and a more robust Clinton win — in the mid-to-high single digits — remaining entirely plausible outcomes.”)

I finally don’t have any countervailing humour to offer. Just as I was getting ready to file my story, however, the latest breaking news came in : “FBI announces latest Clinton emails don’t require further investigation or charges … Director James Comey said there’s been no change to the conclusion reached by investigators in July.”

So why did Comey make the last-minute announcement he made in the first place?  As my esteemed colleague X urged in this space back at the end of last month : “Whatever history may in the future decide … right now it certainly looks a lot like a partisan effort by Republican sympathizers in the FBI to slow down the momentum Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have seemed to be developing over the past few weeks.”

As almost all the polling attests, so far this  partisan effort by Republican sympathizers in the FBI has largely succeeded. And it certainly ought to ruin the reputation and future of the FBI. (Which no doubt accounts for why James Comey finally walked back from his original last-minute announcement.)

I was especially struck a few days ago by an observation on the 2016 US election campaign from the American novelist Diane Johnson :“The pity is that whatever happens on election night will leave a permanent scar, because we’ve learned some horrible things about our country and its divisions, about how so many people don’t mind, or don’t even know, that someone lies …”

Anyway if Charles Parker II from Kansas City were alive today (aka “Bird” — the greatest musician America has yet produced, in my view), he would no doubt make sure he voted on November 8.

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