So now the election has come down to e-mail

Danny Katch tries to untangle the media frenzy about the FBI and mystery e-mails.

James Comey and Hillary Clinton

CLINTON VS. TRUMP was bound to anticlimax with something out of an Onion headline, and apparently this is the one we're going to get: "Content-less Election Rocked by Information-less Revelation that May or May Not Involve Anthony Weiner."

In news that rocked the worlds of a relatively small number of politicians and pundits, FBI Director James Comey announced that while investigating Weiner's lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl, the agency had "learned of the existence of e-mails" on the computer of Weiner's partner Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, "that appear to be pertinent to its earlier investigation" of Clinton's use of a private server for storing classified e-mails.

Comey added that "the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant."

That's literally all we know, but it's been enough to "shake up" an election that was getting dangerously close to declining TV ratings.

Donald Trump, of course, declared that the existence of e-mails with unknown content proves that Clinton is engaged in corruption "on a scale we have never seen before"--which is quite a statement coming from someone who really has seen massive amounts of corruption in his time as a tax cheat, real estate swindler and for-profit university con artist.

On the other side, the Clinton campaign has called on its supporters to challenge the credibility of Comey, a Republican appointed to his position by Barack Obama, and Democrats are heeding the call with Trumpian levels of conspiracy-fueled rage.

After weeks of mocking Trump and his supporters for claiming the election is rigged, Democrats now claim that the director of the FBI is trying to steal the election from Clinton.

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who declared in July that "no one can question the integrity" of Comey after the FBI director cleared Clinton of criminal charges in the e-mail server probe is now suggesting that Comey could be brought up on charges for breaking laws that bar government employees from engaging in political activity.

On November 1, the New York Times ran not one, but two articles--one a "news" story and the other an opinion piece-- comparing Comey's public announcement to the nefarious secret conspiracies of founding FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Where has all this condemnation and suspicion been for the past 15 years as the FBI has engaged in a series of "terrorism" entrapment operations that ruined the lives of innocent Muslim Americans?

Where were the comparisons to Hoover's dirty wars against Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers when the FBI was revealed to have spread false information to local police about anti-police brutality protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana?

Or how about when Comey himself slandered thousands of Black Lives Matter activists last year by claiming, without any evidence, that their protests were causing an increase in murder rates?

The earlier silence about FBI abuses doesn't just reveal the Democratic Party's true priorities. It hides the fact from millions of people that some of the things they fear most about a Trump presidency have already been taking place under the Obama administration.

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DEMOCRATS AND their supporters are understandably frustrated that Comey's public statement could affect the presidential and congressional elections next week, only to turn out to be about nothing.

But the idea that his actions are an unnatural "politicizing" of a neutral government agency is absurd.

The FBI, which began in its modern form under the Communist-obsessed Hoover, is and always has been a political agency. It is a political decision, after all, for an agency to devote resources to investigating the sex life of Anthony Weiner rather than, say, the criminal eviction schemes of landlords looking to jack up rents and property values.

In terms of partisan politics, there are Republican and Democratic supporters at every level of the agency, and Comey knew he was either going to take heat from those supporting Clinton if he made the information about the new e-mails public, or from Trump supporters if he didn't.

It's probable that there are more of the latter than the former in the ranks of the FBI. In a Washington Post article defending Comey's earlier decision to criticize Clinton even as he cleared her of criminal charges, Republican operative Ed Rogers wrote:

[T]here are steady rumors floating around that the FBI doesn't trust the Justice Department. The FBI views itself as a crime fighter, and many rank-and-file agents think of their political bosses at DOJ as social tinkerers who are obsessed with the Black Lives Matter movement, transgender bathroom breaks and the like; that they really don't "get" law enforcement.

Given all this, there was no way Comey could have let the original investigation end with a benign written statement saying there were no grounds for an indictment or prosecution. One former agent told me that Comey was facing somewhat of an insurrection if he let the investigation be swept under the rug. So he had to publicly explain the bureau's work and defend the independence and credibility of America's premier law enforcement organization.

In other words, the FBI doesn't view civil rights violations and extrajudicial police killings as law enforcement issues--and, like the Border Patrol whose union has endorsed Trump, its ranks are filled with agents who don't want to carry out the few liberal measures the Obama administration has enacted.

Wow, maybe that's worth a little more outrage, investigation and exposure from Democrats.

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CLINTON'S E-MAILS may seem trivial compared to the crimes committed by Donald Trump, but it's worth noting that Clinton actually did something to bring on an investigation--unlike the thousands of Muslims stalked by FBI agents trained with graphs showing a supposed connection between devotion to Islam and tendency to violence.

As criminal defense lawyer Page Pate wrote for CNN:

I think we need to take a step back and acknowledge that, if anyone is to blame for this mess, it is Hillary Clinton and her staff.... Not only was her use of that private e-mail server "extremely careless" [as Comey said in July] but her cooperation in the ensuing investigation also seems reluctant at best, obstructive at worst. Once Clinton became aware of the nature of this investigation, she should have done everything humanly possible to get any potentially relevant information produced to Comey and his team for a thorough review. That would include asking Abedin to check for e-mails at home.

It's also worth noting that the Democratic Party leadership got behind a presidential candidate with a closet bursting with skeletons--not to mention scandalous behavior that isn't considered a scandal, like supporting a coup against an elected president in Honduras and packing her team of advisors with Iran war hawks and Social Security privatizers--because they preferred her reliably ruling class outlook to Bernie Sanders' radical rhetoric.

The only reason Trump has been able to make this race occasionally close is that voters (correctly) don't trust Clinton to fight for the issues they care most about--starting with the greatest levels of wealth inequality in a century.

But the election is well past the point of talking about actual issues--that all but died when Sanders lost the primaries and started loyally repeating Clinton campaign talking points. Ever since it became a two-way race between the unpopular Clinton and the even more unpopular Trump, the presidential campaign has been defined almost exclusively by events, past or present, that remind people why they dislike the other one.

(By the way, it's easy to think that everything would be different if only Sanders had won the nomination. The fact that Bernie's loyal opposition to Clinton has been almost all loyal and no opposition should tell you something about how prepared he was to fight the Democratic Party to carry out his agenda.)

Hillary Clinton's strategy--knowing that, unlike Bernie Sanders, she can't inspire young and first-time voters--has been to go after wealthy suburban Republicans by reminding them at every turn why they don't like Trump. Comey's announcement has now reminded at least some of them why they don't like Clinton.

And so it will go on for one more week, spiraling ever more inward. The rest of us can do our best to avoid getting sucked into their black hole--and take what steps we can, on Election Day and after, to build an alternative to this miserable and corrupt two-party system.