Unity for thee, but not for ‘we’


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On the roster: Unity for thee, but not for ‘we’ - Gillum ethics woes arise ahead of final debate tonight - Menendez leads, but tantalizingly close for Hugin - Iowa Dems worry about end of straight-ticket voting - Worth it, tbh

UNITY FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ‘WE’
In light of the bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and CNN, former Vice President Joe Biden urged his Twitter followers: “This country has to come together. This division, this hatred, this ugliness has to end.”

This was the same Joe Biden who at a Florida rally the day before said of Donald Trump, “This president is more like George Wallace than George Washington.”

There’s truth in what Biden had to say about our divide-and-conquer president who stokes cultural animus for political gain, but campaigning in the contest that could see Florida’s first-ever black governor elected, we assume Biden was more interested in invoking the first chapter of Wallace’s career as a vicious, enthusiastic segregationist.

So the “this” in Biden’s remarks about division, hatred and ugliness might be better understood as “your.”

But when it comes to misleading parts of speech, Biden’s articles have nothing on the president’s pronouns.

“We have to unify. We have to come together,” Trump said in brief remarks today promising to bring the guilty to justice. “Acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”

Now, we will take the president at his word that he opposes political violence, despite his lusty talk about violence at his 2016 rallies. But Trump talking about national unity would be like Kim Kardashian talking about the need for modesty on social media.

This was, after all, the same Trump who in Houston on Monday declared that “The Democrats have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country, the security of our nation, and the safety of every single American.”

Not that their policies might produce these things, mind you, but that the intent of the party that includes something like a third of his countrymen want to destroy the nation and endanger every citizen. 

Trump even falsely accused Democrats about opposition to the anti-opioid addiction bill, the signing of which provided the backdrop for his plea for national unity. At an Ohio rally on Oct. 12, he claimed that the bill that passed with “very little Democrat support.” The bill passed the Senate 99-1, with only Republican Mike Lee of Utah dissenting. Lolz.

So Trump’s “we” today about the need to unify ought to be read as “you.” You ought to unite with him and otherwise shut up about it.

Trump has taken the long-lamented practice of subtly but invidiously raising questions about the motives of one’s political foes and turned it into a Gatling gun of calumny. The term “divider in chief” has been applied to his two immediate predecessors, but Trump’s the only one who embraces it. 

Now, it’s foolish to spend too much time parsing the niceties that politicians offer when they sense dire events may lead to their own political peril. Pay attention to what they’re saying when they think they have room to swing the axe to get a sense of them, not what they say when they’re worried.

But indulge us in just one more. 

Campaigning for a Democratic House candidate in Florida today, Hillary Clinton, one of the intended recipients of the explosives, also had some thoughts on the need for national healing.  

“It is a troubling time, isn’t it?” she said. “And it’s a time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.”

This is the same woman who two weeks ago told CNN, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”

“That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again,” she continued. 

So her “we,” today is, of course, is like the president’s. It means “you.” When you are ready to bend the knee, then we can “bring our country together.” 

Remarkably, Clinton continued her remarks in Miami saying that the way to heal these deep divisions was to… choose her party’s candidate in the election. There’s nothing to suggest that the choice between Democrat Donna Shalala and Republican Maria Salazar would either deepen or heal the wounds Clinton described, but why pass up a chance to score some points?

We’re not telling you anything you don’t know. But we suggest that in a time when political violence is on the rise and public confrontations are increasingly common, it’s time to stop expecting the politicians who profit from these divisions to be the ones who will somehow fix them.

THE RULEBOOK: WHAT IT TAKES
“No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 44

TIME OUT: CELESTIAL DENSITY AL DENTE 
Atlantic: “Neutron stars exist under unfathomable conditions. For one to form, another star must grow old and die. When a giant star has burned through the fuel supply that makes it shine, its core collapses under its own weight, mashing electrons and protons together to produce neutrons. … The light show eventually fades, but the compressed core—now a newly formed neutron star, shining brightly on its own—remains. … For all astrophysicists have learned about these bizarre objects since they were first predicted in the 1930s, they still don’t know exactly what neutron stars look like on the inside. For now, the study of their interiors relies on theoretical models… They compare them to pasta. ‘I guess physicists just love their food,’ says Matt Caplan, an astrophysicist at McGill University who studies neutron stars. It’s not just that, of course. The carb-heavy framework, first proposed in the early 1980s, may sound silly, but it makes a lot of sense. The structures that astrophysicists predict exist inside neutron stars really do resemble some classic pasta shapes.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -7.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 1 point
[Average includes: Gallup: 44% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; CBS News: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Fox News: 47% approve - 52% disapprove; ABC/WaPo: 43% approve - 53% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.4 percent
Democratic average: 49.6 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 9.6 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 2 points  
[Average includes: Fox News: 49% Dems - 42% GOP; ABC/WaPo: 53% Dems - 42% GOP; CNBC: 42% Dems - 36% GOP; CNN: 54% Dems - 41% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 48% Dems - 42% GOP.]

GILLUM ETHICS WOES ARISE AHEAD OF FINAL DEBATE TONIGHT 
NYT: “Dogged by a state ethics commission investigation into trips he took as mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, has insisted that all of his travel was above board, paid for by himself, his wife or his younger brother. ‘I don’t take free trips from anybody,’ Mr. Gillum said in a debate on Sunday. But records made public on Tuesday suggest that Mr. Gillum knowingly accepted a ticket to the Broadway show ‘Hamilton’ from men he believed to be businessmen looking to develop property in Tallahassee — but who were actually undercover F.B.I. agents. The records also suggest that a lobbyist friend provided Mr. Gillum and his brother with a hotel room in New York — and possibly paid for much of a vacation the mayor shared in Costa Rica. Mr. Gillum never reported any of the perks as gifts, as required by law for elected officials in Florida.”

Poll shows tightening race for Connecticut governor - WSJ: “Republican Bob Stefanowski and Democrat Ned Lamont are locked in a tight race for governor in Connecticut, according to a Sacred Heart University and Hearst Connecticut Media Group poll released Tuesday. Mr. Lamont, a cable television entrepreneur, leads Mr. Stefanowski, a former business executive, 39.5% to 36.1%. … Mr. Lamont’s lead over Mr. Stefanowski has shrunk in recent weeks. A similar poll from September had Mr. Lamont leading 43.1% to 36.9%. …The state’s economy has performed sluggishly in recent years, and the next governor will have to close a $4.4 billion budget gap over the next two fiscal years. … Other polls have shown Mr. Lamont with a larger advantage. A Quinnipiac University survey released earlier this month showed Mr. Lamont leading by 8 percentage points.”

Poll: Dead heat in South Dakota gubernatorial for Noem, Sutton - Sioux Falls Argus Leader: “It's a dead heat. Two weeks ahead of the South Dakota general election, two gubernatorial hopefuls are tied, according to a poll commissioned by the Argus Leader and KELO TV. In a survey of 500 registered voters likely to cast their ballots in the election, 45 percent said they would vote for Republican Kristi Noem if the race were held today. Meanwhile, 45 percent said they'd vote for Democrat Billie Sutton. One percent of those surveyed said they planned to support Libertarian Kurt Evans. Another 9 percent said they were undecided. Jacksonville, Florida-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy polled voters by telephone between October 18 and October 22. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points. The numbers illustrate that for the first time in more than 40 years, a Democrat could be poised to take the governor's mansion. While campaigns' internal polls reported a tightening race and the Cook Political Report earlier this month shifted the race from a likely Republican win to a toss-up, this is the first independent polling to show the race is a dead heat.”

Civil but sharp debate in Georgia governor race - WaPo: “The candidates in the hotly contested and closely watched Georgia gubernatorial contest stood firm in their respective political corners Tuesday night in a debate that touched on some of the ideological divisions that are playing out at the national level. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee who hopes to become the nation’s first black female governor, talked about expanding Medicaid, as well as the electorate, accusing Republican Brian Kemp, who is Georgia’s secretary of state, of striking fear into the state’s growing minority population by making it harder to vote. Kemp talked about lowering taxes and ‘putting Georgians first,’ criticizing Abrams for wanting to allow some young undocumented immigrants to participate in a state-funded scholarship program and saying that she is encouraging ‘illegals’ to vote. Each continually accused the other of misstating their positions, but the hour-long debate was not rancorous and offered no surprises.”

Nevada’s Laxalt faces political attack from family members - Fox News: “The midterm elections are ruining Thanksgiving – at least for a handful of families bitterly divided over relatives running for office. In a startling trend, several candidates this year have been hit with attack ads and op-eds featuring siblings and other family members. The latest political family feud to go public involves the Laxalt family, of which Adam Laxalt is running as the Republican nominee for Nevada governor. A dozen relatives essentially called him a big phony, in a scathing op-ed published this week in the Reno Gazette-Journal. ‘[W]e feel compelled to speak publicly about why we believe that Adam Laxalt is the wrong choice for Nevada’s governorship,’ they wrote, out of a proclaimed interest to ‘protect our family name from being leveraged and exploited by Adam Laxalt.’ The op-ed went on to question his Nevada-roots narrative…”

MENENDEZ LEADS, BUT TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE FOR HUGIN
NJ.COM: “On the same day of the only debate in New Jersey's U.S. Senate race, a poll released Wednesday gave U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez a 5-point lead over former Celgene Corp. executive Bob Hugin. The Rutgers-Eagleton survey put Democrat Menendez ahead of Republican Hugin among likely voters, 51 percent to 46 percent, within the poll's margin of error of 5.1 percentage points. The candidates are scheduled to face off Wednesday evening. Every poll has put Menendez in the lead, but narrower than expected given New Jersey's blue tint and the opposition in the state to Republican President Donald Trump. In a midterm election seen as a referendum on the president, just 41 percent of likely voters approved of Trump's performance in office, with 56 percent disapproving.”

Donnelly, Braun trade poll leads in Indiana dead heat - Fox News: “Republican businessman Mike Braun and incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly are trading the lead in the polls just two weeks before voters cast their ballots in Indiana’s tightening Senate race. A new poll, released on Tuesday by IndyPolitics.org and Mason Strategies, found that that 47 percent of voters in the Hoosier State back Braun, while 43 percent said they support Donnelly in his bid for a second Senate term. Libertarian candidate Lucy Brenton earned 3 percent while 7 percent are still undecided. Another poll, released on Monday by the Indianapolis Business Journal, found that 41 percent of voters in Indiana back Donnelly, while 40 percent said they support Braun. Brenton comes in third with 8 percent of the vote.”

RNC pumps cash to House, Senate committees - Politico: “The Republican National Committee has transferred $3.5 million apiece to the GOP’s House and Senate campaign arms. The last-minute infusion, which was confirmed by a person with knowledge, is designed to help the congressional committees combat a wave of Democratic spending. House Republicans, in particular, have found themselves deluged. Through the end of last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee had been outspent on the TV airwaves by its Democratic counterpart, $65 million to $44 million. With the transfer, the RNC — which has benefited heavily from President Donald Trump’s fundraising — has given the congressional committees nearly $17 million in total.”

IOWA DEMS WORRY ABOUT END OF STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING
Politico: “Iowa Democrats are worried that a small change in the state’s voting law might have serious implications up and down the ballot this fall. For the first time, Iowa voters will be denied the opportunity to vote a straight-party ticket — a time-honored practice that enables voters to choose a party’s entire slate of candidates with a single mark. Until the legislature outlawed the practice in 2017, voters could simply fill in just one oval to back every single party candidate on the ballot. Now, with grassroots enthusiasm surging and a higher-than-usual turnout expected in November, Democrats are increasingly nervous that the change will end up tamping down their vote totals in a year that shows signs of being a wave election for the party.”

What about those ballot initiatives? - National Review: “Often overlooked, however, will be several important ballot measures that could have a far more direct impact on people’s lives than the high-profile races that receive all the news coverage. … But in six states, voters will have the opportunity to cap, limit, or restrict taxes. Arizona voters will consider whether to prohibit new or increased taxes on real-estate transactions, banking, investment management, health care, and other services. In Florida, voters will vote on two anti-tax measures. The first would make permanent a 10 percent cap on property taxes that is currently set to expire next year. The second would require a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers of the legislature to raise taxes.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Nate Silver 
offers two alternate visions of Election Day FiveThirtyEight

And yet he persisted: Mitch McConnell pens op-ed about recent restaurant protest - Courier Journal

Study finds only eight states require civics class - Ed Week

AUDIBLE: NEED SOME ICE FOR THAT BURN?
“I didn't know we were that close.” – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings after he was asked by the Dallas Morning News about his relationship with Rep. Pete Sessions. This comes after Rawlings endorsed Colin Allred over Sessions, which Sessions said he was hurt by because it was the end of his relationship with Rawlings. 

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Many years ago Senator Bob Dole taught me a lesson, a lesson Congress needs to relearn. I had a project in front of Senator Dole, working through his staff. When the opportunity for final approval came, he entered the room, introduced himself, and said: ‘I know why this project is good for Kansas. But you tell me why it is good for this country.’ I understand why ‘resistance’ is good for one party, but I fail to understand why it is good for this country. I and all the rest of the ‘deplorables’ expect our elected officials to do what is good for this nation.” – Lee Gerhard, Franklin, Tenn.

[Ed. note: I certainly take your point. But I would also say that obstruction is as American as apple pie. Republicans spent six years of the Obama administration bottling up policies, nominees and initiatives they thought to be harmful to the country. Certainly they were clear about this to voters who gave them the House and then the Senate for that very purpose. Add in the constant investigations and oversight hearings, the GOP proved very effective at blockading the previous administration. Now, Democrats are asking for the chance to do the same thing in return. It is too bad that we can’t see more cooperation on issues that really do enjoy broad consensus like immigration, infrastructure, firearms and more. That was the norm when Dole was a senator, but not anymore. There are a lot of reasons why, particularly a primary election system that rewards radicalism, but our moment is certainly one of obstruction over cooperation.]

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WORTH IT, TBH 
KFSN: “The Fresno Fire Department said a man who was house-sitting for his parents set the home on fire after he used a blowtorch to kill black widows. Yes, you read that right. Thankfully, firefighters say no one was injured in the fire and the man who initially called them made it out safely. The house fire happened Tuesday night at a home in the Woodward Lake housing development. Fire crews said there was damage to the second-story of the home and the attic. Twenty-nine firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire and were able to extinguish it. Although the official cause has not been determined, fire crews believe the blowtorch is to blame.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Defending the status quo today is a thankless undertaking.” – Charles Krauthammer(1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 23, 2016.  

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.