Clinton Precedent Cited In Sailor’s Case To Request Leniency

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The Obama administration has an overly hard line record on prosecuting minor security breaches. Hillary Clinton, who has never had a very good record with regards to either government transparency or civil liberties, might inadvertently wind up reversing this trend. While the FBI did not recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton despite her reckless handling of classified information, people lower down have commonly been prosecuted for less. The handling of Clinton’s case is now likely to be cited in subsequent cases. Politico reported on one such case:

Citing Clinton, sailor seeks leniency in submarine photos case

A Navy sailor facing the possibility of years in prison for taking a handful of classified photos inside a nuclear submarine is making a bid for leniency by citing the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over classified information authorities say was found in her private email account.

Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, is set to be sentenced Friday on a single felony charge of retaining national defense information without permission. In May, Saucier pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., admitting that while working on the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009 he took and kept six photos showing parts of the sub’s propulsion system he knew to be classified.

The defense and prosecutors agree that sentencing guidelines in the case call for a prison term of 63 to 78 months, but defense attorney Derrick Hogan cited the treatment of Clinton as he argued in a filing last week that Saucier should get probation instead.

“Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary [sic] Clinton…has come under scrutiny for engaging in acts similar to Mr. Saucier,” Hogan wrote. He noted that FBI Director James Comey said 110 emails in 52 email chains in Clinton’s account contained information deemed classified at the time, including eight chains with “top secret” information and 36 with “secret” information.

“In our case, Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as ‘confidential/restricted,’ far less than Clinton’s 110 emails,” Hogan wrote. “It will be unjust and unfair for Mr. Saucier to receive any sentence other than probation for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid.”

There are distinctions between the cases. Saucier admitted as part of a plea bargain that he “knew from his training and his specialized work upon the submarine” that the photos contained classified information and he wasn’t authorized to take them. He also admitted that after being confronted by law enforcement in 2012 he destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card.

Clinton has said she didn’t know any information on her server was classified, although Comey has said anyone in Clinton’s position “should have known that an unclassified system was no place” for some of the subjects being discussed. While Clinton had tens of thousands of emails erased from her system in 2014, she did so with the advice of lawyers and before the FBI investigation was underway.

Regardless of whether people such as this sailor receive more lenient handling, I also wonder if Clinton will be as hard on such matters as the Obama administration has been if elected (which looks likely based upon current polls and Donald Trump’s continuing incoherence while campaigning). While her natural conservative inclination might be to be a hard liner, she might also be dissuaded by the inevitable comparisons to her case.

In related news, two Republicans have laid out their arguments for the Justice Department to investigate Clinton for perjury in her testimony before Congress. This includes lying over whether she sent or received classified information on her private server, the claim that her lawyers had gone through each email individually before deleting them, her  claim that all work related email was turned over to the State Department, and her claim that she used only one server while Secretary of State. The FBI report contradicts each of these claims made when she testified before Congress.

The Democratic Convention Concludes: War Is Peace, And Fears Of A Loss To Donald Trump

Clinton Acceptance Speech

The Democratic National Convention concluded with a rather conservative message,followed by platitudes and imitation progressivism from Hillary Clinton. The message of the evening seemed to be: I will throw a few bones your way like paid family leave, and in return forget about restoring the civil liberties which you have lost since 9/11, don’t think about curtailing the surveillance state, and don’t get in the way of my wars.

Hillary Clinton gave a great speech in support of compassionate conservatism, but no mention of her support for expansion of the warfare/surveillance state. Hillary Clinton also gave a revisionist history, as Bill did earlier in the week. She boasted about helping children while ignoring how she betrayed them as First Lady. She once again took credit for the work done by Ted Kennedy, exaggerating her role in the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. More fact checking of Clinton’s speech here,

Clinton spoke of service, leaving out how much money she has made off of “public service” and influence peddling. The Onion captured the spirit of her career and  campaign in mocking Clinton’s speech:

When I Was A Child, Most Special Interest Groups Wouldn’t Even Consider Donating Large Sums Of Money To A Woman

Delivering a historic and uplifting speech to the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told the American electorate that when she was a little girl, most special interest groups would never even consider donating enormous sums of money to a woman. “It’s hard to fathom now, but back when I was growing up in the 1950s, Wall Street banks, major law firms, and every other special interest out there wouldn’t let a woman through the door, let alone funnel inordinate sums of money into her campaign as a means to advance their agendas,” said Clinton, adding that she personally had to work twice as hard as her male colleagues for decades just to be deemed qualified as a viable political conduit for hundreds of millions of dollars controlled by wealthy corporations and narrowly focused institutions. “In those days, it never even occurred to lobbyists that a woman was capable of accepting a gigantic check from a powerful entity in exchange for favorable policies several months later. My, how times have changed. We sure proved them wrong, didn’t we?” Clinton then assured the cheering crowd at the Wells Fargo Center that while she might be the first female presidential nominee of a major political party beholden to well-heeled influence peddlers, she would certainly not be the last.

Democrats are worried about Hillary Clinton’s inability to separate herself from Donald Trump in the polls, even after what they believe was a largely successful convention that represented a real step toward party unity.

Clinton is hoping for a big post-convention boost, but the reality right now is that she in behind Trump in the polls, and has been in a relatively tight race for weeks.

While the Electoral College may give her an advantage, party leaders and strategists say they remain concerned that Clinton is a tough sell when a majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track and want to shake up Washington.

“The most important thing is there is a bias for change and there’s an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll where people express that bias even when they don’t know what the change is going to be,” said Geoff Garin, a pollster who worked for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and now advises Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC.

That July survey showed a majority of voters, 56 percent, prefer someone who will bring major changes to government even if they don’t know what those changes will be. Only 46 percent wanted a candidate who would bring a steady approach to government.

The Democrats sure are looking foolish for rejecting Bernie Sanders, a candidate who both led Donald Trump by double digits in the polls while Clinton was losing her lead, and who would win the support of voters who desire real change.

Thomas Frank warned that the Democrats are being outflanked by Donald Trump from the left:

Donald Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning. He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times), and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”

Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care. Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction. The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control. And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.

It boggles my simple liberal mind. The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss Nafta to the winds. The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms. The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.

He warned that another Clinton move to the right (as occurred under Bill) might not result in victory this time:

Let’s see: trade agreements, outreach to hawks, “bipartisanship”, Wall Street. All that’s missing is a “Grand Bargain” otherwise it’s the exact same game plan as last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. Democrats seem to be endlessly beguiled by the prospect of campaign of national unity, a coming-together of all the quality people and all the affluent people and all the right-thinking, credentialed, high-achieving people. The middle class is crumbling, the country is seething with anger, and Hillary Clinton wants to chair a meeting of the executive committee of the righteous.

When Democrats sold out their own rank and file in the past it constituted betrayal, but at least it sometimes got them elected. Specifically, the strategy succeeded back in the 1990s when Republicans were market purists and working people truly had “nowhere else to go”. As our modern Clintonists of 2016 move instinctively to dismiss the concerns of working people, however, they should keep this in mind: those people may have finally found somewhere else to go.

It is theoretically possible for the Democrats to be outflanked from the left as Clinton’s DLC Democratic Party is a party of the right. It is only the view that support for reproductive rights and any government at all is sufficient to be considered liberal by many in the United States (and forgetting that it wasn’t all that long ago that many Republicans were pro-abortion) that Clinton is not widely recognized to actually be a right-winger. On the other hand, Donald Trump is far too incoherent on policy to be given a clear ideological label. His racism and xenophobia will make it especially hard to challenge Clinton from the left.

Correction: Donald Trump’s acceptance speech had higher ratings than Clinton’s speech, while the Democratic convention had overall higher ratings.

Democratic Convention Night Three: Identifying The Worst Person In America

Trump Clinton Celebrity Death Match

The highlight of the third night of the Democratic Convention was Barack Obama speaking. It has become a rarity in modern times for an incumbent, or even recent president, to be seen as helpful to the nominee. Obama, like Bill Clinton the night before, provided a selective history. There was no discussion of Clinton’s Libya policy as Secretary of State, which Obama in recent interviews has said did not work, has turned Libya into a “shit show,” and was the worst mistake of his presidency. Nor did he discuss why he rejected Clinton’s advice to intervene in Syria.

Tim Kaine spoke earlier in the evening. Other than for his impression of Donald Trump, the line which comes to mind was “I trust Hillary Clinton with our son’s life.” Do we really want someone this foolish a heartbeat away from the presidency? Kaine’s opponent for the vice presidency, Mike Pence was not far from me this afternoon. Just as Mike Pence began a town hall nearby in Michigan, the sky became dark and rain came down from the heavens. Was it the wrath of an omnipotent invisible being in the sky, or just coincidence? We report, you decide.

The goal of the various speakers was to paint Donald Trump as being such as awful person that nobody would consider voting for him. That was not hard to do. After all, he once spoke of obliterating Iran. What type of monster speaks of obliterating another country. Oh, wait, that was Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump fought against a ban on the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas. Oops, again that was Hillary Clinton joining with the Republicans. If Trump is elected, we will see mass incarceration, deportations, and cuts in welfare for women and children. Again, Clintons, been there, done that. Donald Trump would ignore the Bill of Rights, for example by proposing to imprison people for burning the flag in protest. Yet again, it was Hillary Clinton who introduced such legislation. Donald Trump has mocked freedom of speech if it comes in the way of fighting terrorism. That one is true about Trump–but Hillary Clinton has taken the same position.

The nominating process really has been successful in finding the worst two people in America. Now they can fight it out to see which one really is the worst.

That is why there were protests, and chants of “Hell No DNC, We Won’t Vote For Hillary.” We need someone creative out there to be ready with an updated version of “Hey There LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?”

Stephen Colbert also gave a rundown of last night’s events:

Plus he mocked the attempts by Viacom to retain the rights to the Stephen Colbert character from his Comedy Central show, and used an entirely new segment, Werd, to look at voting for the lesser evil:

White House Correspondents’ Association: Trump & Clinton Both Threaten Press Freedom

Trump Clinton Bobble Head

I have pointed out in the past how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have very similar views on restricting civil liberties. In a recent op-ed Carol Lee, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, argued that both Trump and Clinton are a threat to press freedom:

The White House Correspondents’ Association is alarmed by the treatment of the press in the 2016 presidential campaign.

There is no debate that a free press with broad access to our elected officials, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, is a cornerstone of our democracy. It is through the work of a free press that Americans learn how their elected officials conduct the public’s business and are able to hold those officials accountable.

As the highest-ranking public official in the country, the president sets the tone. How he or she, or anyone seeking the White House, approaches the media will be observed by officials in federal, state and local offices across the country.

That is why the White House Correspondents’ Association is alarmed by the treatment of the press in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The public’s right to know is infringed if certain reporters are banned from a candidate’s events because the candidate doesn’t like a story they have written or broadcast, as Donald Trump has done.

Similarly, refusing to regularly answer questions from reporters in a press conference, as Hillary Clinton has, deprives the American people of hearing from their potential commander-in-chief in a format that is critical to ensuring he or she is accountable for policy positions and official acts.

We believe that whenever media access is restricted, the public’s right to know is restricted. Transparency is the key to a well-informed electorate, and without a well-informed electorate, our democracy is put in jeopardy.

With that goal in mind, we advocate day-in and day-out at the White House for greater access to the president. We will continue to advocate for more access during this presidential campaign.

The American people expect that anyone who seeks the highest office in the United States should be put under intense scrutiny. If he or she has an issue with that, Americans should take note.

The United States will not have a free press if its president gets to choose which journalists and which media organizations are allowed access to the executive branch. We will not have a truly free press and an informed electorate if the president doesn’t believe he or she should be held accountable to inquiries from the media.

It is a reporter’s job to cut through the rhetoric from candidates, scrutinize whether their policy proposals would benefit Americans in the way they claim and question the viability of their promises. If we cannot do our job, then the American people cannot do theirs.

That’s why we are concerned both with the rhetoric directed at the media in this campaign and the level of press access to the candidates. Both Clinton and Trump can do better.

Clinton’s avoidance of the press should also concern Democrats. We have already seen her tumble in the polls after the FBI statement which demonstrated that Clinton has been lying about the email scandal for the past year. If she has lied every time she spoke to the press in the past year, what will happen when she finally faces the press after the FBI and State Department Inspector General reports?

The After Bern: Stein and Johnson Seek Support Of Sanders Voters

Sanders Stein

Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein didn’t waste a moment trying to seek the support of those who voted for him. She has been very active on Twitter today. Politico reports:

“If you don’t want to vote for a war monger or racist billionaire, there are more options. The political revolution will keep going,” Stein tweeted in the hour preceding Sanders’ announcement alongside Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In another tweet, Stein wrote, “While Trump praises dictators, Hillary takes their money. Remind us again of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record?”

As Sanders began speaking, Stein offered her own hashtags to disaffected Bernie backers. “The revolution continues with those who will fight for a government that represents all of us–not just the 1%. #HillNo #JillYes,” Stein wrote.

Stein has suggested she would step aside as the Green Party’s standard bearer should Sanders wish to lead the ticket. “I’ve invited Bernie to sit down and explore collaboration,” she told The Guardian in an interview published last Friday. “Everything is on the table. If he saw that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, he’d be welcomed to the Green Party. He could lead the ticket and build a political movement.”

…While Sanders emphasized the importance of defeating Donald Trump, Stein remarked that the Vermont senator could propose a bill to introduce ranked-choice presidential voting.

It sounds like the only good thing Bernie can say about Hillary is that she’s not Donald,” Stein continued. “That’s what most of her supporters like about her.”

Stein also has an article at Counterpunch which begins:

I join millions of Americans who see Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the opposite of what they and Bernie Sanders have fought for. Despite her penchant for flip flopping rhetoric, Hillary Clinton has spent decades consistently serving the causes of Wall Street, war and the Walmart economy.

The policies she fought for – along with her husband and political partner, Bill Clinton – have been foundations of the economic disaster most Americans are still struggling with: the abuses of deregulated Wall Street, rigged corporate trade agreements, racist mass incarceration, and the destruction of the social safety net for poor women and children. The consistent efforts of the Democratic Party to minimize, sideline, and sabotage the Sanders campaign are a wake up call that we can’t have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary party.

Sadly, Sanders is one of a long line of true reformers that have been undermined by the Democratic Party. The eventual suppression of the Sanders campaign was virtually guaranteed from the beginning with super-delegates and super Tuesdays, that were created after George McGovern’s nomination to prevent grassroots campaigns from winning the nomination again.

Sanders, a life-long independent who has advocated for building an independent democratic socialist party similar to Canada’s New Democratic Party, has said that his decision to run as a Democrat was based on pragmatism, but there is nothing pragmatic about supporting a party that for decades has consistently sold out the progressive majority to the billionaire class. This false pragmatism is not the path to revolutionary change but rather an incrementalism that keeps us trapped, voting for lesser evil again and again…

Some Clinton supporters have made a fallacious comparison between Bernie Sanders and George McGovern, with Democratic rules since the 1972 loss being designed to promote more moderate candidates. Among the fallacies in their claim that Sanders would have lost badly as McGovern did, in June 2016 Bernie Sanders had a double digit lead over Donald Trump while Clinton was much closer. In June of 1972, Richard Nixon had a nineteen point lead over McGovern. Any comparison between the two is also fallacious as Nixon was running for reelection from a strong position, before being tainted by the Watergate scandal. The war in Vietnam was winding down, Nixon had gone to China, and had a recent summit to build on the developing détente with the Soviet Union. McGovern’s pledge to cut the defense budget in half also seemed far more radical than any of Sanders’ proposals. This year it is Hillary Clinton who is entangled in scandals, was on the wrong side of foreign policy decisions including Iraq and Libya, and has been foolishly belligerent towards Russia. Plus her lead over Donald Trump is down to three points.

Hit & Run recommends the above video from March in which Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson tried to appeal to Sanders supporters based upon civil liberties, drug policy, and foreign policy. They also referred to a blog post from June which states:

Gary Johnson keeps pitching his presidential campaign to Bernie Sanders’ disappointed supporters. Read any profile of the Libertarian nominee, and chances are you’ll get to a part where he points out that the ISideWith site says Sanders is the rival candidate he agrees with the most.

It’s not hard to see why he’s doing this. While there are big differences between Johnson’s and Sanders’ economic platforms, their views have more overlap when it comes to social and foreign policy. Presumably there are some Bernie backers out there who care more about the latter issues, and Johnson would like to reach them. And indeed, according to a recent Bloomberg poll, “barely half of those who favored Sanders—55 percent—plan to vote for Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, while 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson.” Eighteen percent is a pretty big slice of the pie, especially for a third-party candidate.

Despite agreements on a handful of issues at the rally today, the statements from Stein and Johnson make it clear that there are many areas of disagreement between Sanders supporters and Hillary Clinton. I previously discussed the vast ideological difference.

High Voter Dissatisfaction With Major Party Candidates Could Make Sanders A Strong Third Party Choice

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With the major political parties likely to nominate two candidates who are both unfit to be president and opposed by more voters than in previous elections, there is increased attention being paid to the third party candidates. I recently wrote about the Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. While Johnson and Bernie Sanders do agree on many issues, Jill Stein, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party, has views which are much closer to those of Sanders. The Guardian reports on an offer from Stein which could really alter the election–inviting Sanders to replace her as the Green Party nominee:

Bernie Sanders has been invited to continue his underdog bid for the White House by the Green party’s probable presidential candidate, who has offered to step aside to let him run.

Jill Stein, who is expected to be endorsed at the party’s August convention in Houston, told Guardian US that “overwhelming” numbers of Sanders supporters are flocking to the Greens rather than Hillary Clinton.

Stein insisted that her presidential bid has a viable “near term goal” of reaching 15% in national polling, which would enable her to stand alongside presumptive nominees Clinton and Donald Trump in televised election debates.

But in a potentially destabilising move for the Democratic party, and an exciting one for Sanders’ supporters, the Green party candidate said she was willing to stand aside for Sanders.

“I’ve invited Bernie to sit down explore collaboration – everything is on the table,” she said. “If he saw that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, he’d be welcomed to the Green party. He could lead the ticket and build a political movement,” she said.

Common Dreams points out that Stein had made this offer previously:

After the New York primary, which took place April 16, Stein wrote to Sanders: “At a time when the American electorate is rejecting politics as usual in vast numbers, I invite you to join me in pushing the boundaries of that system to a place where revolution can truly take root.”

“In this hour of unprecedented crisis—with human rights, civilization, and life on the planet teetering on the brink—can we explore an historic collaboration to keep building the revolution beyond the reach of corporate party clutches, where the movement can take root and flourish, in the 2016 election and beyond?” she wrote.

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A Pew Research Center Poll shows a definite opening for a strong third party choice:

Overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades. Currently, fewer than half of registered voters in both parties – 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans – say they are satisfied with their choices for president.

Roughly four-in-ten voters (41%) say it is difficult to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton because neither would make a good president – as high as at any point since 2000. And just 11% say the choice is difficult because either would make a good chief executive, the lowest percentage during this period.

With the two major political parties making bad choices of this magnitude, it is possible we could see a realignment in political parties. The divisions of the Bush years have become obscured with the Democrats nominating a candidate who shares many of the faults which Democrats have opposed for the last decade. As I wrote in another recent post comparing Clinton to both George Bush and Richard Nixon,we were outraged by Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy, but Clinton is the neocon hawk running this year. We protested Bush’s assault on civil liberties, but Clinton also has a far right record on civil liberties issues, sounding much like Donald Trump on restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism. We objected to an increase in government secrecy under Bush, but Clinton has a long record of opposing government transparency. Bush’s administration was remarkable for expanding the influence of the religious right.  Clinton worked with The Fellowship to expand the influence of religion on public policy when in the Senate. Plus Clinton has been on the wrong side regarding the corrupting role of money in politics, on the environment and climate change, on the death penalty, on single-payer health care. She is even to the right of Donald Trump on drug policy and the drug war and on the wrong side of trade issues.

The reports from the State Department Inspector General and the FBI on Clinton’s email scandal also make it quite clear that Democrats can no longer get away with attacking the culture of corruption in the Republican Party. With the Republicans nominating Donald Trump, we could finally see the end of them as a serious major national party, with the Democrats under Clinton replacing the Republicans as the conservative party. A Green Party led by Sanders could be the start of the formation of a new liberal/progressive party with greater consistency and integrity than we have seen from the Democratic Party.

While such a choice would be welcomed, I think it is very unlikely Sanders will accept Stein’s offer, with Sanders reportedly planning to endorse Hillary Clinton next week. While legitimate polls (excluding online polls) typically show that from twenty percent to near half of Sanders supporters will not support Clinton, those active in many on-line Sanders groups show an even higher intensity in opposing Clinton. It is unknown how many will hold their nose in the end and vote for Clinton, primarily motivated by stopping Donald Trump. If Trump’s campaign since clinching the Republican nomination is any indication of what we will see this fall, Clinton is likely to have enough of a lead to allow Sanders supporters to vote their conscience without fear of a Trump victory. Plus there is a small contingent of Sanders supporters who are supporting Trump over Clinton.

There is a tendency of some Clinton supporters to see opposition to Clinton’s nomination from the left as being based upon being pro-Bernie. It is much more based upon opposition to Clinton’s views and character. Even an endorsement by Sanders will not change these views. I do not identify myself as primarily a Sanders supporter, a Stein supporter, an Obama supporter, or the supporter of any particular candidate. I choose candidates based upon the issues.

I supported Obama over Clinton in 2008 and Sanders over Clinton this year over many of the same issues (with Obama more moderate than Sanders but still preferable to Clinton). I cannot support Clinton for the same reasons I opposed her for the nomination twice, and for the same reasons I opposed George Bush. As I supported Obama and Sanders in their nomination battles, I will most likely support Stein as the best choice as opposed to Trump or Clinton, assuming Sanders will not be on the general election ballot. Of course it is a long way until November and I will be watching all the candidates closely.

Update: Third Party Candidates Polling Competitively Against Trump (Should Bernie Run Third Party?)

Celebrate American Independence and Liberty–Reject Trump and Clinton

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Happy Independence Day. It is a great day to reflect upon what this means, and reject the two candidates who violate the spirit of American independence and liberty.

Donald Trump’s disdain for the American traditions have been obvious throughout his campaign. This week there is the controversy over how he used the star of David in an attack on Hillary Clinton. In the remote chance that anyone has missed the previous examples, Matthew Rozsa presented a summary at Salon. Here is just one excerpt:

When Trump was told that the military would be obliged to disobey his orders if he told them to kill terrorists’ families (which violates international law), he ominously replied that “if I say do it, they’re gonna do it.” Like his comments about Judge Curiel, Trump’s response here belies a belief that upon being elected president, he would quite literally be the end-all of political power in this country. Bear in mind, this answer came from the same man who admitted that he might have supported interning Japanese-Americans during World War II. Although Trump’s supporters may be voting for an authoritarian, our government was formed in large part to prevent tyrants from using the armed forces to actively violate civil authority and civil rights.

Trump appears to think he is above the law, but in many ways so does Hillary Clinton. She has given the impression that the rules which apply to others do not apply to her throughout her career, with the email and Foundation scandals highlighting this. In a democracy we have rules to attempt to prevent corruption. In addition to other rules already in place, there were two new rules when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. Because of abuses of email in the Bush administration, which Clinton called an example of shredding the Constitution  in 2007, stricter rules were put into place in 2009. The State Department Inspector General report showed that Clinton knowingly and  intentionally violated the rules in effect, and acted to cover this up.

Because of concerns over conflicts of interest when Clinton was Secretary of State, an agreement was reached in which Clinton agreed to disclose the identities of all donors to the Foundation while she was in office. Clinton failed to abide by this agreement. Clinton unethically made decisions regarding parties which were making donations to the Foundation and making unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton, whose speaking fees jumped from 150,000 to typically 500,000, and as high as 750,000 when dealing with those with requests before Hillary.

Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, discussed the ethics of the matter (with more here).

Even if no deals are made, the influence of special-interest super PACs is a corrupting influence on American democracy. Even without a quid pro quo, the incredible concentration of direct contributions from a tiny fraction of the wealthiest 1 percent of the population is a corrupting ­influence.

Corruption is not just a contract. Corruption is also a kind of economy — an economy of influence that leads any sane soul to the fair belief that private influence has affected public policy. It is for this reason that practically every Democrat has insisted that the court’s Citizens United decision (and its progeny) needs to be reversed. It is this idea that has motivated millions to petition Congress to propose an amendment for that reversal…

Besides failing to disclose the donors, Clinton has violated convention in destroying data regarding her meetings while Secretary of State. In June, AP reported that meetings with “longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests” were not recorded on Clinton’s official calendar. Today there are reports that Huma Abedin  testified during her recent deposition to the FBI that Clinton (who also destroyed business-related email, falsely claiming they were personal) also destroyed her schedules.

The Clintons have tried to game the system and showed a lack of respect for the independent investigations by the Inspector General and the Justice Department. Besides failing to cooperate and trying to cover up information, the Clinton campaign has engaged in attacks on the Inspector General (after keeping the office vacant while she was Secretary of State, avoiding such oversight). More recently there is the scandal over Bill Clinton unethically speaking with Loretta Lynch while his wife, and his Foundation, are under investigation by the FBI.

There has been considerable, and justifiable, concern, over Donald Trump’s disregard for civil liberties. Hillary Clinton’s record and views on civil liberties are not much better. During the 2008 campaign Hillary Clinton was the only Democrat who refused to sign a pledge to restore Constitutional liberties. All the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, also refused to sign. Truth-Out had an article in December which looked at Hillary Clinton’s legacy of moving the Democratic Party to the right as she promoted the policies of the Democratic Leadership Council, and included her record on civil liberties while in the Senate:

More importantly, Clinton adopted the DLC strategy in the way she governed. She tried to portray herself as a crusader for family values when she introduced legislation to ban violent video games and flag burning in 2005.

Techdirt compared statements from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in which both showed their lack of respect for freedom of speech. Here is a quote from each, starting with Donald Trump:

We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet. We have to do something. We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We have a lot foolish people.

The speaking style was a little different, but the views expressed by Hillary Clinton were no different:

You’re going to hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, et cetera. But if we truly are in a war against terrorism and we are truly looking for ways to shut off their funding, shut off the flow of foreign fighters, then we’ve got to shut off their means of communicating. It’s more complicated with some of what they do on encrypted apps, and I’m well aware of that, and that requires even more thinking about how to do it.

There are also considerable concerns about the increased risk of war should either Clinton or Trump be elected. Looking at their histories and statements, the election of Hillary Clinton places us at a far greater risk of war with Russia, or at least another extended Cold War. However, while perhaps a slight exaggeration, the election of Donald Trump risks getting us involved in wars with Mexico, England, China, and whichever other countries bruise his ego.

Both are the candidates of American oligarchy. Trump is the crude and direct voice coming from them directly, as opposed to their usual middlemen like the Clintons.

For the 4th of July, we should reject both Trump and Clinton.

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Debunking the Ralph Nader Scare Tactics For Supporting The Lesser Evil

Trump Clinton Illusion Free Choice

Many of us have principles and will not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Many Clinton supporters have shown no understanding of the basic democratic principle that we have the right to support or not support whichever candidates we choose. They make bogus claims that not voting for Hillary is a vote for Trump. If true, the opposite would also have to be true–our decision to not vote for Trump by their logic would be a vote for Hillary.

Clinton supporters raise Ralph Nader and the 2000 election, but this is wrong for so many reasons:

This assumes that the Democrats are entitled to our vote, and that if there weren’t third party candidates running, those on the left would automatically vote for the Democrat. Wrong. Many would stay home, or leave the presidential spot empty, if there was no other choice.

Most of us do not live in battleground states, leaving us free to vote our convictions without affecting the outcome. Plus Clinton is pulling away in the battleground states and Nate Silver reassures us that Clinton will win anyways. Considering what an inept campaign Trump has waged since clinching the nomination, he is probably right (although Quinnipiac does show them deadlocked).

Hillary Clinton is not Al Gore. She is far closer to George Bush. We were outraged by Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy, but Clinton is the neocon hawk running this year. We protested Bush’s assault on civil liberties, but Clinton also has a far right record on civil liberties issues, sounding much like Donald Trump on restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism. We objected to an increase in government secrecy under Bush, but Clinton has a long record of opposing government transparency. Bush’s administration was remarkable for expanding the influence of the religious right.  Clinton worked with The Fellowship to expand the influence of religion on public policy when in the Senate. Plus Clinton has been on the wrong side regarding the corrupting role of money in politics, on the environment and climate change, on the death penalty, on single-payer health care. She is even to the right of Donald Trump on drug policy and the drug war and on the wrong side of trade issues.

If you think having George Bush elected in 2000 was a terrible thing (and it was), it makes no sense to argue that Hillary Clinton should be president when she supports so much of what made Bush such a terrible president.

If anything, Nader has been proven right by the Democrats nominating a corrupt warmonger such as Clinton. This clearly shows the dangers of “lesser evilism.”

When does the “lesser evilism” stop? We are warned about what happened when Bush beat Gore and told me must support Clinton because of Trump, but Clinton has supported most of the evil done by Bush. Next election will the Democrats nominate someone like Trump and will we be told we must support him if the Republicans nominate someone even more evil?

Some Clinton supporters have been rather bad winners, attacking those who disagree with them on social media for expressing our opinions. Life is more than a binary choice between the limited options provided by the major parties. It even might be argued that a function of the major parties is to limit debate to the limited issues where their candidates disagree.

In reality, Clinton and Trump are both in the authoritarian right segment of the political spectrum, not differing by as much as supporters of either would admit. Those of us who hold opposing views are going to continue to express our views on the issue, regardless of whether we have a presidential candidate who is likely to win. We will continue to oppose oligarchy, neoconservative military interventionism, restrictions on civil liberties to supposedly fight terrorism, the corrupting role of money in politics, destruction of the environment for profit, and an increased role of religion in public policy–even if the Democratic nominee is on the wrong side of each of these issues.

ACLU Protests Planned Restrictions On Demonstrations At Democratic Convention In Philadelphia

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The likelihood that the 2016 Democratic National Convention will coronate Hillary Clinton, one of the most hawkish politicians in the nation, has drawn many similarities to 1968, when anti-war protesters demonstrated against the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Protests are being organized at the 2016 convention in Philadelphia by Sanders supporters and those who oppose the policies of Hillary Clinton. Besides her foreign policy views, there are expected to be protests against Clinton’s support for oligarchy and the corrupting role of money in politics. With the Democratic Party establishment being firmly in the grasp of Clinton and her supporters, who have never shown much tolerance for freedom of speech or protest, the response is efforts to suppress dissent. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has issued a protest.

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania told Mayor Kenney in a letter Wednesday that recent statements by city lawyers “seem to be setting the City up for conflict with protesters during the Democratic National Convention.”

The letter noted that the ACLU has met regularly with city officials involved in planning for the DNC, an event expected to attract tens of thousands of delegates and protesters July 24-28.

“We are concerned that the City Law Department seems to have walked back several statements made earlier about how the City would accommodate protest during the DNC,” the ACLU wrote in the letter. “The new positions … raise serious First Amendment issues.”

Protest leaders are expected to meet with the city in a closed-door meeting Thursday, and topics like marching on public streets and sleeping overnight at impromptu campsites in city parks are up for discussion. Last week, NBC10.com reported that campsites in South Jersey are already filling up with pro-Bernie Sanders.

As many as 30,000 protesters could flood FDR Park, across the street from the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, during the entire week in July.

Their treatment at the park is among the concerns cited by the ACLU in their letter to Kenney.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has issued this news release, which also contains a link to the pdf of their letter:

The ACLU of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney today asking him to clarify the city’s position on protest activity during the Democratic National Convention. The letter is in response to recent statements by the city’s law department that contradict previous promises not to interfere with protesters.

“We are very troubled that the city seems to be walking back from its previous position of fully accommodating protest during the Democratic National Convention,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “With the eyes of the country – and the world -on Philadelphia during the DNC, there is no better time to show respect for the fundamentally American tradition of peacefully expressing dissent. We hope Mayor Kenney will commit to ensuring that as many protesters as possible will have their voices heard.”

The issues raised in the letter include the city’s new proposal to prohibit all marches on Broad Street and those taking place during rush hour; the city’s plan for handling protesters demonstrating without permits, and fencing around FDR Park, where many protests will be held.

A copy of the letter, which was faxed to the mayor’s office this morning, is available here: www.aclupa.org/kenneydnc

The feeling among many Sanders supporters is that while Donald Trump talks about building walls, Hillary Clinton is building walls–with there being even more serious examples of Hillary Clinton doing what Donald Trump so far has just talked about.

Hopefully this is just the start of a movement to put pressure on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party if Clinton is elected president. While unexpected events could still change matters, Clinton’s election is looking increasingly likely as Donald Trump has shown no ability so far to pivot from attracting right wing extremists to win the GOP nomination to a general election campaign. Like during the Vietnam War when both parties were at fault, the election of Hillary Clinton would be a tremendous victory for the supporters of neoconservative interventionism and for oligarchy, with both major parties supporting expansion of the warfare and surveillance state.

Both Clinton and Trump Ignore Civil Liberties In Response To Terrorism

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While Donald Trump’s disregard for civil liberties in response to terrorism has been rather obvious, one sad fact about the 2016 election is that Hillary Clinton isn’t much better. Mediaite points out a serious flaw in her views in response to a tweet from Clinton from earlier today: “If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked.”

Clinton’s proposal and others like it have met with criticism from civil libertarians and legal scholars, who argue that you cannot constitutionally deny citizens their rights without proving that they are guilty in a trial. “We generally don’t take away rights based on suspicion” is how UCLA law professor and blogger Eugene Volokh puts it.

Clinton evidently disagrees, likely believing that we as a society ought to be wary of anyone being investigated by the feds, even in the absence of a conviction. At the very least, she seems to think we should ask pointed questions of those the federal government believes put the national security of the United States at risk through their actions.

Of course, Clinton’s comments come after the Orlando shooting Sunday morning, carried out by a perpetrator who was investigated by federal authorities but then removed from watch lists. So even if the federal government stops investigating a suspect, we may have to act on the assumption they broke the law anyway.

Mark Joseph Stern also discussed this at Slate:

America has an appalling, unconscionable, and unparalleled gun violence problem. The federal government has proven able in the past to pass gun safety laws—like rigorous licensing requirements and comprehensive backgrounds checks—that have proven to be quite effective at reducing gun violence. Much, much more can and should be done. For example, the federal government should also promptly repeal the outrageously unjust law that protects gun sellers across the country from legal liability when they negligently sell firearms to unqualified purchasers. And Congress should forbid manufacturers from selling weapons of war—guns that have no plausible purpose other than to slaughter vast numbers of humans in as short a time as possible.

 What Congress, or the next president, should not do, however, is forbid individuals on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms. The problem here is largely one of precedent: The Supreme Court has said private gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. It has also ruled that the right to bear arms is a “fundamental right” under the 14th Amendment as a component of the “liberty” protected by the due process clause. As I explained in December:

The Supreme Court’s ahistorical, atextual reading of the Second and 14th Amendments as guarantors of an individual right to bear arms may be deeply flawed. But limiting any right, no matter how specious, based on undisclosed, mistake-ridden lists is even more unsound. The Constitution is anchored by the promise of due process; so long as gun ownership is considered an aspect of liberty, the government must not revoke it unilaterally, with no opportunity for appeal. Civil libertarians should push to abolish the terror watch lists, not expand their reach.

If the government can revoke your right to access firearms simply because it has decided to place you on a secret, notoriously inaccurate list, it could presumably restrict your other rights in a similar manner. You could be forbidden from advocating for causes you believe in, or associating with like-minded activists; your right against intrusive, unreasonable searches could be suspended. And you would have no recourse: The government could simply declare that, as a name on a covert list, you are owed no due process at all.

This is hardly the only civil liberties problem with regards to Hillary Clinton. During the 2008 campaign Hillary Clinton was the only Democrat who refused to sign a pledge to restore Constitutional liberties. All the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, also refused to sign. She introduced legislation to make flag burning in protest a felony while in the Senate, and has used language quite similar to Donald Trump in showing a lack of respect for freedom of speech.

There is a special irony with Clinton equating being under FBI investigation with guilt here, considering that Clinton herself is under FBI investigation on other matters. By this logic, Clinton being under investigation should by itself be sufficient grounds to deny her the Democratic nomination. Of course it is much more reasonable to deny someone the nomination to be president than to deny civil liberties to large numbers of people. There has already been plenty revealed about her actions as Secretary of State which should disqualify her from consideration.