November 8th, 2016

Is this the end of our latest national nightmare?

    Today, much of America will be greeting Election Day not only with relief at the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, but with deep trepidation as well.

    Donald Trump, an ignorant, arrogant, egomaniacal snake-oil salesman, has conned the Republican Party and much of the electorate into placing him within reach of the Oval Office.

    The nation's romance with public-opinion polling, pushed by an apparently insatiable desire to know the outcome of the election before it's over, has created a collective sense of fear that the American political system may be at the brink of extinction as we have known it .

    Various surveys have represented the election as either a nail-biting tossup or one that will be decided by one or two state outcomes, depending on voter turnout that the pollsters can only conjecture.

What campaign promises would a President Trump try to keep?

    In my travels, I've encountered numerous Trump supporters across the land. All are decent, hard-working Americans who genuinely believe that Trump will make America great again and is just the shock that the system needs.

    I have noticed one cognitive tic they all possess, however. When asked how they feel about Trump's more outrageous policies -- bringing back torture, building a wall on the Mexican border -- they have a response. It is usually some variant of, "oh, that's just campaign talk" or "he won't really be able to do that, Congress will stop him" or something like that. In other words, Trump supporters focus on the things they like about their candidate and rationalize away the other stuff.

What A State Of Affairs

    Observing this campaign session from afar must be devastating to those who heretofore thought it was the best government that humankind has devised. It is certainly frightening to many of us living it. However dissatisfied they may be with their own governments, many around the world are grateful not to be in the predicament faced today by the United States of America.

    They must be wondering what we think the word "united" means. Mexico may be thinking that building a fence isn't such a bad idea after all, while the French wonder what happened since they gave us that statue. Canada is hoping that climate change might deliver a geographic shift. Little Cuba is ready to reverse the embargo. In short, they must be quaking in their boots about the intolerance so prevalent here spreading to their nations. Some are thinking that by comparison they are not so bad off after all.

Is Donald Trump Putin's 'puppet'? When the shoe fits....

    Donald Trump's big PeeWee Herman moment came during a clash in his final debate with his opponent Hillary Clinton over Russia.

    The moment came during a question about one of her speeches released by WikiLeaks. Trump said Russian leader Vladimir Putin has no respect for Clinton.

    "That's because he'd rather have a puppet as president," Clinton replied sharply.

    Trump, after taking a moment to comprehend what he had just been served, fired back with all the sophistication of PeeWee the former kiddy show star:

    "No puppet," he said, trying to talk over her. "No puppet. You're the puppet. No, you're the puppet."

    It was a classic Trump move. When you're backed into a corner with virtually zero knowledge of what you're talking about, accuse your opponent of whatever happens to be their worst charge against you.

How markets will react to U.S. elections

    As Americans prepare to go to the polls after one of the most bizarre election campaigns, here are the main things that investors should keep in mind.

    Although the presidential race tightened in the last 10 days, many prognosticators and betting sites still predict that Hillary Clinton will win. If her victory is combined with down-ballot results that prolong gridlock in Congress -- the most frequently predicted outcome for the legislative-branch elections -- markets would likely react in a relatively calm and orderly fashion. Equities would remain range-bound overall, as would bonds and currencies.

    There are two market "tails" that accompany this baseline; and they would lead not just to major moves in indices, but to notable compositional changes, too.

We can probably make plans for after the election

    Thank you for inviting me to your party or event on Nov. 9. I can probably come!

    However, there is a slight chance that I might be underground in a bunker screaming and screaming where no one can hear me.

    I will probably attend, though.

    But just possibly I will be 30 feet below ground in a makeshift hovel, frantically attempting to teach myself the skills to survive in this terrible new world, building a fire using only rudimentary tools: a few sticks of kindling, a broken pair of spectacles, and a pocket copy of the Constitution. "Why isn't this working?" I will be screaming. "Where is Google when I need it? Where is anyone?" My hands will shake so much that the fire will go out again, leaving only a dark char in the middle of the Bill of Rights.

    But I look forward to seeing you, probably. I will probably bring you a copy of "The Mothers," a great new book that you should absolutely read.

Comey's damage can't be undone

    So all the over-the-top histrionics about Hillary Clinton's emails amounted, in the end, to nothing, nada, zilch. Next to the word "fiasco" in the dictionary should be a picture of FBI Director James Comey.

    Should his picture be next to the word "catastrophe" as well? Did Comey's 10th- and 11th-hour letters to Congress -- one basically screaming "red alert," followed nine days later by one saying "never mind" -- have an impact on the election? You bet they did, and the nation should be appalled. This may be the first time the FBI has so shamefully inserted itself in politics since the days of J. Edgar Hoover.

    I don't believe the damage will be enough to elect Donald Trump, who has shown himself unfit for any consequential public office, let alone the presidency. But it may have hurt Democrats' chances of taking control of the Senate.

How Democrats stopped worrying about immigration

   While the partisan gap over immigration has been a defining feature of this campaign, its origins probably aren't what you think. Yes, Donald Trump has stoked his core supporters in the Republican base into near-delirium with his talk of building a "great, great wall on our southern border." But the immigration gap between the two parties owes much more to a less-remarked shift: Democrats today are far less concerned about legal and illegal immigration than they were two decades ago.

    The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' most recent survey on public opinion and foreign policy shows just how polarized attitudes have become. Whereas two-thirds of Republicans see "large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the United States" as a "critical threat," only a quarter of Democrats feel the same way.

    When the Chicago Council began asking that question in 1998, Democrats saw large-scale immigration no differently from Republicans. After 2002, that started to change, as the percentage of Democratic respondents expressing concern has steadily declined.

Was candidate Donald Trump a boon or bust for America's cartoonists?

    The conventional wisdom, especially since July's actual political conventions, has been that the wild and controversial presidential campaign has been good for the humor business. From videos to vitriol, the thinking goes, the national satirists must be lapping it up.

    The truth, though, is that the race has often been a mixed bag, filled with both satirical red meat and low-hanging fruit.

    On Friday evening in the Ritz Carlton Georgetown in Northwest Washington, the Art Soiree exhibit "Hillary vs. Trump Cartoon Debate" will showcase works from nine of the nation's top cartoonists, including four Pulitzer Prize winners.

    Ahead of Election Day, The Post's Comic Riffs asked some of the participating cartoonists whether this high-octane election has been more boon or bust as comics fodder.

    "It has been so much fun for me," the Augusta Chronicle's Rick McKee says. "I fear I'm going to miss Trump."

You can question authority but still trust science

    The results of a new Pew Research Center poll on politics and climate change surprised even some of those who study public attitudes toward science. Forty-five percent of respondents who identified as conservative Republicans said they had little or no trust in climate scientists, compared with 6 percent of self-described liberal Democrats. Only 15 percent of conservatives said they trust climate scientists "a lot."

    This is surprising, according to Daniel Kahan, a Yale professor of law and psychology, because Americans have unparalleled confidence that scientists know what they're doing. After all, global warming and other science-related issues are complex. Most people don't have time or training to gather their own data, he said, so they have to defer to experts.