Bill and Hillary Escalate Smear Campaign With Dishonest Attacks on Sanders

MILFORD, NH - FEBRUARY 07:  Former U.S. President Bill Clinton campaigns for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a campaign event at Milford Junior High School February 7, 2016 in Milford, New Hampshire. New Hampshire holds the "first in the nation" primary on February 9.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Clintons have escalated their dishonest smear campaign against Bernie Sanders, including attacks from Bill Clinton which are reminiscent of his racist attacks on Barack Obama eight years ago. Both Bill and Hillary have raised what Truthout calls The Most Disingenuous Attack on Bernie Yet over the vote for the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. Hillary Clinton raised this at the last Democratic debate.

But here’s the thing: Hillary Clinton isn’t telling a true story about Bernie Sanders and his vote for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, or CFMA.

As Robert Scheer has pointed out over at Truthdig, then-Congressman Sanders voted for the CFMA, not because he wanted to, but because he had to.

The CFMA had been shoved into an omnibus spending bill at the last minute as part of a deal between Republicans and President Bill Clinton, and because this was a time when, you know, Congress actually did its job, Sanders bit the bullet and voted for the whole package – CFMA included – to keep the government open.

Only four members of Congress ended up opposing the final spending bill that included the CFMA, and one of them was Ron Paul, who opposed pretty much every spending bill. But that’s just of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how dishonest Clinton was being when she called Bernie out for voting for the CFMA.

Even if Bernie had a good reason to vote for that omnibus spending bill – like preventing a government shutdown – Sanders was angry that he been forced into deregulating Wall Street.

Bill is also attacking Bernie over the data breach with an inaccurate account of the incident, calling it like stealing a car with the keys in the ignition. Bill left out important details such as that it was the Sanders campaign which both reported that the data breach and fired their staff member who was involved. In return, the DNC violated their contract with Sanders, only backing down in response to a lawsuit. Imagine the cover ups which we would be seeing if it was a Clinton staffer involved.

In what was probably his biggest strategic blunder, Bill Clinton jumped on highly exaggerated attacks on Bernie Bros. The attack line, which is reminiscent of the Obama boy attacks of eight years ago, is largely based upon myths spread by the Clinton campaign. While there is no doubt that some Sanders supporters have acted inappropriately on the internet, Sanders has already condemned such acts.

If bad behavior from supporters on the internet was a reason not to vote for a candidate, there are also plenty of cases coming from Clinton supporters, both on line and from more prominent supporters. While hardly a serious argument against Sanders, this resulted in an increase in discussion of Bill Clinton’s predatory behavior towards women. This will haunt the campaign through the general election should Hillary win the nomination. Reuters reports that one of the women who is accusing Clinton of sexual assault is planning to campaign against Clinton.

Meanwhile, Hillary continues to have problems with her speaking fees. At Huffington Post, Les Leopold writes Hillary Not Truthful About Wall Street Speaking Fees.

Hillary is veering from the truth when she suggests her $225,000 per speech fee, paid three times by Goldman Sachs, was “what they offered.”

It was not what they offered — it was what Team Hillary demanded.

A review of her 2014 tax return posted on her website shows that $225,000 was her minimum fee…

Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame and Hillary biographer, commented on CNN that the White House is “horrified that Clinton is blowing up her own campaign.” He said they can’t believe she took the money and didn’t see the ethical problems that would dog her.

It is not credible for her to argue that she took the money because she wasn’t sure she was going to run for president or that she was “dead broke.” She and Bill hauled in $139 million from 2007 to 2014…

The pundits point out that she has created a “perceived” conflict of interest, whether real or imagined. In essence they are saying that there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking the money. It’s not really tainted.

Hillary states that she never changed her vote due to campaign contributions. But evidence is mounting via previous accounts by Elizabeth Warren, that Hillary may have switched her position on bankruptcy laws to please her Wall Street contributors after becoming the Senator New York.

But these attacks miss the most basic question: Is money tainted? Is it blood-money?

Sanders believes it is by arguing that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud.”

There is considerable data to support him.

The most disturbing factor here is that Hillary Clinton really seems to believe that there is nothing unethical about the situation. How can she ever be trusted to work to get money out of politics if she does not recognize the problem and this is how she thinks?

Clinton makes matters worse by refusing to release the transcripts as she previously refused to release the email until forced to.  McClatchy points out that Clinton did require that transcripts be kept.

With all the chaos surrounding the Clinton campaign, as well as Clinton losing her lead in the latest national polls from Quinnipiac and Reuters/IPSOS (which may or may not be outliers at this point), Politico reported that Clinton is considering a shake up of her staff. Hillary denied this report, but there is no information as to whether her nose grew during the interview. Regardless, the staff is not the problem. As was also the case eight years ago, the problem is the candidate. Democrats are insane if they want to go into a general campaign with her on top of the ticket.

The Revolution Begins For Bernie Sanders In Iowa (And No, There Is No Guaranteed Firewall For Clinton In The South)

Iowa Virtual Tie

Hillary Clinton won the Iowa caucus by a fraction of one percent thanks to the arcane rules of the Iowa caucus and the luck of winning the coin toss six out of six times when it decided delegates. Sanders has requested that the actual raw vote be released. It will probably not be done in accordance with the Iowa caucus rules, but it was a smart move to make. There is an excellent chance that Sanders won the popular vote but received slightly fewer delegate equivalents (which were announced) due to his vote being more concentrated in college towns. Plus the anti-Clinton delegates to the state convention could easily out-number the pro-Clinton delegates when those won by  Martin O’Malley, who dropped out of the race, are considered.

It remains to be seen how significant Clinton’s narrow win will be considered when it came down to coin tosses and the arcane Iowa caucus rules to pick delegate equivalents, along with some questions as to the accuracy of the results leading to some calls for a recount. Even an article at The Des Moines Register Tuesday evening questions if the correct winner was called.

A tie will be as good as a win if it brings in enough contributions and if it raises attention for Sanders sufficiently for him to get his message to more minority voters. So far it looks like it was enough in terms of fund raising, and nobody knows what will happen in terms of improving Sanders’ support nation wide. Iowa might not matter after Sanders wins in New Hampshire.

A major strategy of the Clinton campaign has to claim that Sanders could not win, just as they claimed this eight years ago about Obama. (Showing how little things have changed, they also claimed Obama was too liberal). The Clinton camp spreads claims that Sanders’ support is limited to young white males. While there is a generational divide, the gender divide is exaggerated as young millennial women are often backing Sanders. They have created the myth of a firewall in the south as the Clinton camp ignores the inroads Sanders has made among minorities the last several months.

Eight years ago, at the time of the Iowa caucus, Clinton also had a strong national lead in the national polls and among black voters. It wasn’t until Obama beat her in Iowa and showed that his campaign was for real that the campaign changed. Minorities subsequently shifted towards Obama, and Obama eventually moved ahead of Clinton in the national polls. Besides being likely to continue to improve his support among minority voters, Sanders is also making gains among less affluent whites, including in the south, which might provide votes to balance Clinton’s diminishing advantage with minorities.

Sanders support is rapidly growing. In contrast, Clinton’s support was more limited “to older, frequent caucus-goers.” This was enough for the narrow victory in Iowa, but might not be enough in primary states where relative turn out is higher, and she cannot count on the Iowa caucus rules to tilt the results.

A tie for Sanders will be as good as a win if it brings in enough contributions, and if it raises attention for Sanders sufficiently for him to get his message to more voters. So far it looks like it was enough in terms of fund raising, and we do not know yet what will happen in terms of improving Sanders’ support nation wide.

Neither campaign was able to do serious harm to the other with a meaningful win in Iowa. It largely comes down to bragging rights. Clinton can say she won, despite headlines like How Iowa Went Wrong For Hillary Clinton. She did avert disaster which she might have faced if she had lost by a significant amount as in 2008.

Bernie Sanders made a statement that he should be paid attention to. We don’t have to settle for Hillary. Iowa did show that Clinton is beatable. It also showed that she is not a very good candidate.

Iowa was essentially a tie, and maybe it is for the best that a small state like Iowa did not becoming the determining factor in what could be a long race over significant ideological differences. Previously Clinton  admitted she was a centrist when she thought the nomination was more secure, and she has been attacking Sanders from the right. In her speech last night, she flip flopped again, claiming to be a progressive, seeing where the party is headed.

The protests generated when Clinton’s claims of being a progressive aired at the Sanders campaign headquarters said it all. Sanders supporters are tired of a Democratic Party which fears liberal ideas and enables Republican policies. They were looking from the message from Bernie Sanders that, “What Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution.”

(Post updated early Wednesday with minor changes to add more links from the original version which was cross-posted on social media.)

Interpreting The Final Des Moines Register Poll Showing A Statistical Tie Between Clinton And Sanders

Des Moines Register Poll Final

The final Des Moines Register/Blomberg Poll before the Iowa Caucus shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders with 45 percent compared to 42 percent. The three point lead is within the poll’s margin of error at four percent. Martin O’Malley trails at three percent.

While I have often pointed out the limitations of polls before primaries, the final Des Moines Register poll is probably the most likely to be predictive. Among its virtues, it does not exclude voters based upon past lack of participation in the caucuses as many other polls do. While it has a better track record than other polls, it still suffers from the same problem of all pollsters in not knowing who will actually turn out. Traditional Democratic voters favor Clinton while more independent voters strongly favor Sanders, but we don’t know how many of them will participate in the caucuses. Higher turn out than usual would increase the chances of a victory for Sanders.

Being a caucus rather than a pure primary vote creates additional questions. A candidate has to meet a fifteen percent threshold for their vote to count towards selecting delegates in the Democratic caucus. If they do not meet this threshold, then the second choice becomes crucial. Greater support for Sanders than Clinton among O’Malley supporters nearly erases Clinton’s lead.

Another question is the consequence of the difference in date for the caucus this year compared to 2008, when Obama came in first and Clinton came in third. The 2008 caucus occurred on January 3, when many college students were still on vacation, and possibly out of the state. Will having the caucus occur after students have returned to school provide an additional benefit to Sanders? On the other hand, will college students be more likely to caucus near their campus as opposed to at homes throughout Iowa. There is the danger that this will lead to Sanders having huge leads in some areas, such as Iowa City and Ames, while not doing as well as Obama did in other parts of the state. This could result in Clinton picking up more delegates statewide even if Sanders narrowly wins the popular vote.

Donald Trump leads among the Republicans at 28 percent with Ted Cruz in second place at 23 percent.

Update:  Buzzfeed reports on how the Clinton campaign is trying to game the system by having some of their supporters back O’Malley so that he will meet the fifteen percent viability requirement to keep his supporters from going to Sanders. Of course plotting such a strategy and getting Iowa voters to go along are two different things. I recall how Clinton protested over similar actions by the Obama campaign eight yeas ago. Plus Bloomberg has more background on Clinton’s strategy in Iowa–basically doing the opposite of what she did in 2008.

An updated post with further news, including Sanders leading in latest pre-Iowa poll, is here.

Dana Milbank Is Wrong–Nominating Sanders Is The Rational Choice For Democrats

Bernie Sanders Large Crowd

Dana Milbank repeated the establishment line in a column fallaciously entitled, Democrats would be insane to nominate Bernie Sanders.

I adore Bernie Sanders.

I agree with his message of fairness and I share his outrage over inequality and corporate abuses. I think his righteous populism has captured the moment perfectly. I respect the uplifting campaign he has run. I admire his authenticity.

And I am convinced Democrats would be insane to nominate him.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is a dreary candidate. She has, again, failed to connect with voters. Her policy positions are cautious and uninspiring. Her reflexive secrecy causes a whiff of scandal to follow her everywhere. She seems calculating and phony.

And yet if Democrats hope to hold the presidency in November, they’ll need to hold their noses and nominate Clinton.

Milbank dismissed the evidence that Sander would do better against the Republicans than Clinton:

Sanders and his supporters boast of polls showing him, on average, matching up slightly better against Trump than Clinton does. But those matchups are misleading: Opponents have been attacking and defining Clinton for a quarter- century, but nobody has really gone to work yet on demonizing Sanders.

Milbank ignores how Clinton and her surrogates have already been launching right-wing sounding attacks against Sanders. Despite this, Sanders does better than Clinton against Republicans in national polls. More significantly in terms of winning the general election, Clinton does poorly with independents and in the battle ground states.

Right wing attacks on Sanders won’t be any different from right wing attacks on Obama, who they already claim is a Marxist Socialist, and a foreign-born Muslim, who will be sending the black helicopters out any minute now to take away their guns and put them in FEMA concentration camps.

Milbank also ignores the importance of turn out. Republican attacks on Sanders will primarily appeal to Republican voters–not people who would ever vote for Sanders. However both Sanders own campaigning and Republican attacks will motivate Democratic leaning voters to turn out. It is Sanders, not Clinton, who has been exciting voters for the past several months, and inspiring many new voters to get involved.

There are traditionally two ways to win an election–motivate your base to turn out in high numbers or win over independents. Sanders can do better than Clinton at both. Plus he can get votes from people who have not voted for the major political parties in the past.

Plus as a general rule of thumb, it is best not to nominate the candidate whose practices are the subject of an active FBI investigation. A Clinton candidacy, assuming she is not indicted, will be dominated by talk of scandal, most likely suppressing the Democratic vote and energizing the Republicans.

Milbanks admits that voters must be willing to hold their nose to vote for Clinton, but what makes him so sure that they will do so as opposed to staying home? Running on the argument that “my candidate is bad, but yours is even worse” is not how to win an election. Voters want to vote for something, not just vote for the lesser of two evils.

With all their faults, at least Republicans are willing to stand for something, even if the wrong things. Republicans don’t worry if their candidates are too extreme, and they reject those who they consider to be Republicans In Name Only.

Many Sanders supporters back him primarily because of the economic issues which have dominated the campaign. Many of us became active in the blogosphere in response to the abuses of the Bush administration. We are not going to be excited by a Democrat who advocates the same neoconservative foreign policy, has supported the same types of restrictions on civil liberties and expanded power for the Executive Branch, and who as actively worked to increase the role of religion on public policy. She has been a hawk on the drug war. While better than the Republicans in agreeing with the scientific consensus on climate change, she is so indebted to the petroleum industry that her environmental policies have not been much better.

This is hardly a record to get people who vote based upon principle, as opposed to party affiliation, to get out to vote for Hillary Clinton. No wonder Milbank realizes we would have to hold our noses.

Democrats, and some of their supporters in the media, think Democrats need to hide from principles and run candidates who are Republican-lite. They never get the lesson, no matter how often that results in the Democrats losing.

Fortunately not everyone agrees. The Nation gave one of their rare endorsements to Sanders and The Washington Post also ran a recent op-ed by arguing that Bernie Sanders is the realist we should elect.

Many of the pundits agree — this is a choice between head and heart. If Democrats think with their heads, they will go with Hillary; with their hearts, with Bernie.

But this conventional wisdom clashes with the reality that this country has suffered serial devastations from choices supported by the establishment’s “responsible” candidates. On fundamental issue after issue, it is the candidate “of the heart” who is in fact grounded in common sense. It wasn’t Sanders’s emotional appeal, but his clearsightedness that led the Nation magazine, which I edit, to make only its third presidential endorsement in a primary in its 150-year history.

For example, foreign policy is considered Clinton’s strength. When terrorism hits the headlines, she gains in the polls. Yet the worst calamity in U.S. foreign policy since Vietnam surely was George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Clinton voted for that war; Sanders got it right and voted against. Clinton has since admitted her vote was a “mistake” but seems to have learned little from that grievous misjudgment. As secretary of state, she championed regime change in Libya that left behind another failed state rapidly becoming a backup base for the Islamic State. She pushed for toppling Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war and lobbied for arming the Syrian opposition, a program that ended up supplying more weapons to the Islamic State than to anyone else. Now she touts a “no fly zone” in Syria, an idea that has been dismissed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as requiring some 70,000 troops to enforce, and by President Obama as well. People thinking with their heads rather than their hearts might well prefer Sanders’s skepticism about regime change to Clinton’s hawkishness.

The worst economic calamity since the Great Depression came when the excesses of Wall Street created the housing bubble and financial crisis that blew up the economy. Clinton touts her husband economic record, but he championed the deregulation that helped unleash the Wall Street wilding. The banks, bailed out by taxpayers, are bigger and more concentrated than they were before the crash. Someone using their head — not their heart — would want to make certain that the next president is independent of Wall Street and committed to breaking up the big banks and shutting down the casino. But Clinton opposes key elements of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) rational reform agenda for the banks, and her money ties to Wall Street lead any rational observer to conclude she’s an uncertain trumpet for reform.

Americans continue to suffer from a broken heath-care system that costs nearly twice per capita as those in the rest of the industrialized world — with worse results. Obama’s health reforms have helped millions get health care — particularly through the expansion of Medicaid and by forcing coverage of pre-existing conditions. But millions continue to go without care, millions more are underinsured and unable to afford decent coverage, and even more are gouged by drug companies and insurance companies that game the system’s complexities. Eventually the United States will join every other industrial nation with some form of simplified universal care. Sanders champions moving to “Medicare for all.” Clinton has mischaracterized his proposal, erroneously claiming it would “basically end all kinds of health care we know, Medicare, Medicaid, the Chip Program. It would take all that and hand it over to the states.” She says she would build on Obamacare but has yet to detail significant reforms that would take us closer to a rational health-care system. Sanders supported Obamacare but understands we can’t get to a rational health-care plan without leaders willing to take on the entrenched interests that stand in the way. It isn’t romantic to think that it is long past time for the United States to join every other industrial country and guarantee affordable health care for all…

In the face of the Sanders surge, Clinton supporters have resorted to the “electability argument”: that Sanders can’t be elected because he’s too far left. Put aside the irony of Clinton dismissing the electoral viability of someone she might lose to. Clinton has inevitable baggage of her own that raises doubts about her electoral prospects. And Clinton’s decision to present herself as the candidate of continuity in a time of change is problematic.

Clinton’s closing ad before Iowa makes her central argument clear: Trust her. She’s experienced and committed. She’ll keep Republicans from taking away the progress we’ve made. Sanders’s ad makes his argument clear: Trust yourself. Come together, take back the country and make this nation better. The first appeals to the head; the latter to the heart. But even the most hard-headed pragmatist might think the latter has as good a chance at getting elected and a better chance of forcing change than the former.

Update: Washington Post Editorial Board Spreading Fictions About Bernie Sanders

The Political Debates Of The Past Week: Wins For Bernie Sanders & SNL

Both major political parties had debates in the past week. The one similarity is that in each party the front runner (Clinton and Trump) is facing a serious challenge. Neither race is likely to change very much based upon these debates alone. The Republican Debate was not all that eventful, except for Donald Trump defending New York against the attack from Ted Cruz. The coverage from Saturday Night Live in the video above is sufficient.

The Democratic Debate was largely a replay of the Rovian-style campaign which Hillary Clinton has resorted to since Sanders started to catch up with her in the polls. Rather than honestly discuss the issues, Clinton attacked Sanders by misrepresenting his views. Her strategy was to scare Democratic voters into thinking that Bernie Sanders plans to take away their guns and Obamacare. She would have fit in much better with the Republicans.

As I noted last week, Clinton has also been far to the right of her current position on gun control in the past, such as when she debated Barack Obama in 2008. Clinton has taken multiple positions on gun control over the years, campaigning even further to the right at times in 2008 when she described herself as a “pro-gun churchgoer.” Despite her major flip-flops on guns, Clinton also sent out a dishonest flier attacking Obama on guns, which is just one way she is repeating the same dishonest tactics employed in her unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

Sanders responded early in the debate to Clinton’s distortions of his record:

Well, I think Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous. I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. I was in 1988, there were three candidates running for congress in the state of Vermont, I stood up to the gun lobby and came out and maintained the position that in this country we should not be selling military style assault weapons.

I have supported from day one and instant background check to make certain that people who should have guns do not have guns. And that includes people of criminal backgrounds, people who are mentally unstable. I support what President Obama is doing in terms of trying to close the gun show loop holes and I think it should be a federal crime if people act as dormant.

Clinton was confronted with her distortions of Sanders’ position on health care by Andrea Mitchell, who asked:

Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders favors what he calls “Medicare for all.” Now, you said that what he is proposing would tear up Obamacare and replace it.

Secretary Clinton, is it fair to say to say that Bernie Sanders wants to kill Obamacare?

Clinton evaded the question and Sanders responded:

SANDERS: Secretary — Secretary Clinton didn’t answer your question.

Because what her campaign was saying — Bernie Sanders, who has fought for universal health care for my entire life, he wants to end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the children’s health insurance program. That is nonsense.

What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right. Now, the truth is, that Frank Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, do you know what they believed in? They believed that health care should be available to all of our people.

I’m on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act. I made the Affordable Care Act along with Jim Clyburn a better piece of legislation. I voted for it, but right now, what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off.

And here’s the important point, we are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country. My proposal, provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families by 5,000 bucks.

That’s the vision we need to take.

Sanders continued to discuss the limitations to Obamacare such as “the 29 million still have no health insurance, that even more are underinsured with huge copayments and deductibles.” He describing his plan as building upon Obamacare, not tearing it up.

In other highlights of the debate, Sanders had a strong response to abuse of police powers:

“I believe there’s a huge conflict of interest when local prosecutors investigate cases of police violence within their communities. Most recently, we saw this with a non- indictment of the officers involved in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. How would you presidency ensure incidents of police violence are investigated and prosecuted fairly?”

SANDERS: Absolutely. This is a responsibility for the U.S. Justice Department to get involved. Whenever anybody in this country is killed while in police custody, it should automatically trigger a U.S. attorney general’s investigation.

Second of all, and I speak as a mayor who worked very closely and well with police officers, the vast majority of whom are honest, hard- working people trying to do a difficult job, but let us be clear.

If a police officer breaks the law, like any public official, that officer must be held accountable.

And thirdly, we have got to de-militarize our police departments so they don’t look like occupying armies. We’ve got to move toward community policing.

And fourthly, we have got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity.

In another of her distortions of Sanders’ record Clinton claimed, “He even, in 2011, publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama.” Sanders had entertained in principle having a primary challenge to Obama from the left in response to questions, but he never sought to have someone run, and he campaigned for Obama when he ran for reelection. Sanders responded by highlighting one of Clinton’s major weaknesses:

SANDERS: Set the record right. In 2006 when I ran for the Senate, Senator Barack Obama was kind enough to campaign for me, 2008, I did my best to see that he was elected and in 2012, I worked as hard as I could to see that he was reelected. He and I are friends. We’ve worked together on many issues. We have some differences of opinion.

But here is the issue, Secretary touched on it, can you really reform Wall Street when they are spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals? So it’s easy to say, well, I’m going to do this and do that, but I have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from Wall Street. I am very proud, I do not have a super PAC. I do not want Wall Street’s money. I’ll rely on the middle class and working families…

Throughout the debate Clinton also tried to present herself as the next Barack Obama, speaking of him as Republicans speak of Ronald Reagan. Of course Clinton is far to the right of Obama on issues including foreign policy, civil liberties, and separation of church and state. She is also counting on viewers failing to recall how often she has attacked Obama from the right on foreign policy since she left the State Department.

Sanders was once again declared the winner of the debate by large majorities in the non-scientific on line polls. Pundits differed but most seemed to agree that Sanders beat Clinton. Examples include Chris Cillizza and John Podhoretz.

The debate received more attention than the previous ones, and there was a lot of interest in the candidates as measured by Google searches. Google even listed the top trending questions for each candidate, and the results were fascinating:

Top Trending Questions on Hillary Clinton
1 Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted?
2 Will Hillary Clinton win the nomination?
3 What did Hillary Clinton do that is illegal?
4 Where did Hillary Clinton grow up?
5 Is Hillary Clinton a Democrat?
The first and third should serve as a warning of what is to come should Clinton be the nominee. Some background information on those can be found here. The FBI is still investigating and we do not know if Clinton will be prosecuted, but she did commit enough ethical violations and violations of government policy that it is a disgrace that the Democratic Party would consider nominating her for President. The fifth depends upon whether you really consider a DLC type Democrat who has spent her career undermining liberal values to truly be a Democrat.
The questions on the other candidates:
Top Trending Questions on Bernie Sanders
1 Why is Bernie Sanders so popular?
2 Can Bernie Sanders win?
3 How old is Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders?
4 What religion is Bernie Sanders?
5 What are Bernie Sanders’ positions on the issues?
Top Trending Questions on Martin O’Malley
1 Why is Martin O’Malley running for President?
2 Martin O’Malley was Governor of which state?
3 Is Martin O’Malley still running for President?
4 What does Martin O’Malley think about Obamacare?
5 What does Martin O’Malley do?
The questions about Sanders are far more typical of questions about a candidate people are thinking of voting for.

Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders–But Also Underestimated Clinton’s Weaknesses

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a speaker during a campaign stop at the YMCA in Rochester, New Hampshire June 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX1GLP8

With Clinton falling in the polls and acting desperate, it is no surprise to see The New York Times run a headline saying, Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders Strengths, Allies Say.

Advisers to Hillary Clinton, including former President Bill Clinton, believe that her campaign made serious miscalculations by forgoing early attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and failing to undercut his archliberal message before it grew into a political movement that has now put him within striking distance of beating her in Iowa and New Hampshire.

According to Democrats close to the Clintons and involved with her campaign, Mrs. Clinton and the former president are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time voters and liberals that will derail her in Iowa, not unlike Barack Obama’s success in 2008, which consigned Mrs. Clinton to a third-place finish. They have asked her advisers about the strength of the campaign’s data modeling and turnout assumptions in Iowa, given that her 2008 campaign’s predictions were so inaccurate.

…Mrs. Clinton’s problems are broader than just her message: Opinion polls show that some Democrats and other voters continue to question her trustworthiness and whether she cares about their problems. Recent polls show that her once-formidable lead over Mr. Sanders in Iowa has all but vanished, while he is holding on to a slight lead over her in New Hampshire.

While they have underestimated Sanders, as they underestimated Obama eight years ago, this isn’t the real problem. The problem for the Clinton campaign is that they failed to see the weaknesses in their candidate and they hopefully underestimated the ability of Democratic voters to recognize them. Clinton lost in 2008 and is struggling today not only because of the attributes of Obama and Sanders, but because Clinton does not have what it takes to a leader in the Democratic Party. She should have remained a Republican.

As the linked article notes, she is weak on ethics. She is weak in policy, both in terms of a history of showing poor judgment on the big issues and in term of opposing liberal viewpoints. By now everyone is aware of the considerable differences between the two with regards to Wall Street, despite Clinton’s attempts to distort the issueThe Nation did an excellent job of succinctly summarizing how often she has been wrong on foreign policy in their endorsement, briefly quoted here. Democratic voters, especially the young, also do not want a candidate who is so conservative on social issues that she teamed up with The Fellowship in the Senate, or who who has a long history of taking conservative stands on civil liberties and government transparency. She has similarly opposed campaign finance reform in the past as she has benefited from money from the special interests, making it hard to believe she will take serious action on the issue. Her record on the environment suggests she is more concerned about protecting the special interests she is indebted to as opposed to supporting any serious change to deal with climate change.

These are many of the same issues which led Democrats to support Obama over Clinton eight years ago.

Clinton’s campaign based upon inevitability and electability against Sanders has fallen apart, as the same strategy did eight years ago, as her lead in the polls has evaporated, and as many head to head polls against Republicans show that Sanders is more electable than Clinton is. Plus, as a general rule of thumb, it is not wise for a political party to nominate a candidate involved in a major scandal, and who has the FBI investigating their actions.

As Van Jones put it last week, the Democratic base is in “full-on rebellion” against Hillary Clinton. This can also be seen in the endorsements from MoveOn and Democracy for America, as well as in DFA’s defense of Sanders from the dishonest attacks from the Clinton campaign.

If there wasn’t a Barack Obama in 2008 and a Bernie Sanders today, somebody else would be challenging Clinton as they are because of the weaknesses of Hillary Clinton.

The Nation Gives Rare Endorsement To Sanders As He Surges In The Polls

Bernie Sanders Endorsement The Nation

On top of the favorable news for Sanders we have already seen this week, yet another poll shows that Clinton has lost most of her lead over Sanders. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll found that Clinton’s lead is down to two points, within the margin of error. Other polls this week have showed the race close, with Sanders leading in some. There has been a similar tightening in the national polls and Sanders maintains his lead in New Hampshire. While either candidate can still win, this is feeling increasingly like 2008.

In addition, Sanders received a rare endorsement from The Nation. The last time they endorsed a candidate in a primary battle was in 2008 when they endorsed Obama over Clinton. The full editorial includes praise for Sanders and a comparison of their economic views,  but the most important considerations are the warnings they give about Clinton’s record and their differences on foreign policy:

the limits of a Clinton presidency are clear. Her talk of seeking common ground with Republicans and making deals to “get things done” in Washington will not bring the change that is so desperately needed. Clinton has not ruled out raising the Social Security retirement age, and her plan falls short of increasing benefits for all. She rejects single-payer healthcare and refuses to consider breaking up the big banks. We also fear that she might accept a budgetary “grand bargain” with the Republicans that would lock in austerity for decades to come.

On foreign policy, Clinton is certainly seasoned, but her experience hasn’t prevented her from getting things wrong. Clinton now says that her 2002 vote to authorize George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but she apparently learned little from it. Clinton was a leading advocate for overthrowing Moammar El-Gadhafi in Libya, leaving behind a failed state that provides ISIS with an alternative base. She supported calls for the United States to help oust Bashar al-Assad in Syria, an approach that has added fuel to a horrific civil war. She now advocates a confrontation with Russia in Syria by calling for a no-fly zone. Her support for President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran was marred by an explicit rejection of better relations with that country and bellicose pledges to provide Israel with more arms. If elected, Clinton will be another “war president” at a time when America desperately needs peace.

Sanders’s approach is different and better. The senator hasn’t talked as much as we would like about global challenges and opportunities, and we urge him to focus more on foreign policy. But what he has said (and done) inspires confidence. An opponent of the Iraq War from the start, he criticizes the notion of “regime change” and the presumption that America alone must police the world. He rejects a new Cold War with Russia. He supports the nuclear-weapons agreement with Iran, and he would devote new energy to dismantling nuclear arsenals and pursuing nonproliferation. He has long been an advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba and for reviving a good-neighbor policy in the hemisphere. Sanders’s foreign policy would also create conditions for rebuilding a broadly shared prosperity at home. He would lead an international effort to end the crippling austerity that threatens to create another global recession, and he would champion a green New Deal to combat climate change. And as a leader of the opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he would undo the corporate-defined trade regime that has devastated America’s middle class.

Critics of Bernie Sanders dismiss him as an idealist (he is!) on a quixotic crusade. Meanwhile, the corporate media has paid shamefully little attention to his campaign’s achievements, instead lavishing attention on the latest outrageous pronouncements by Donald Trump and the Republican candidates struggling to compete with him. Nonetheless, polls show that Sanders—even as he still introduces himself to many voters—is well poised to take on the eventual GOP nominee, frequently doing better than Clinton in these matchups. Moreover, in contrast to the modest audiences at Clinton’s campaign stops, the huge crowds at Sanders’s grassroots rallies indicate that he’ll be able to boost turnout in November.

Whether his candidacy, and the inspired campaign it fuels, will spark a “political revolution” sufficient to win the Democratic nomination and the White House this year remains to be seen. We do know that his run has already created the space for a more powerful progressive movement and demonstrated that a different kind of politics is possible. This is a revolution that should live on, no matter who wins the nomination.

Bernie Sanders and his supporters are bending the arc of history toward justice. Theirs is an insurgency, a possibility, and a dream that we proudly endorse.

 

Clinton Shows Desperation With Dishonest Attacks Against Sanders On Health Care & Guns

Clinton Attacks Sanders

A common characteristic of a Hillary Clinton campaign is to distort the views of her opponent and lie about the facts as opposed to engaging in an honest exchange of ideas. We saw this when she ran against Barack Obama eight years ago, and have repeatedly seen this in the past several months. She appears to have stepped up her smear campaign now that she is losing her lead in the polls.

Democracy For America has also issued a response to what they refer to as Clinton’s “bald-faced lies” on Sanders’s gun record and “right-wing attacks” on healthcare. Their response can be found here.

The Clinton campaign has been attacking Sanders with distortions of his views on health care and gun control this week, having Chelsea deliver some of the attacks on health care:

“Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,” she said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era – before we had the Affordable Care Act – that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

This attack, similar to the attacks from Hillary Clinton during the last Democratic Debate, greatly distorts Sanders’ proposal for Medicare For All. Rather than dismantle Medicare, Sanders proposes providing Medicare for everyone as it provides better coverage at a lower cost than any other system we currently have. It would further expand the number of people covered, and not take away health coverage from millions.

The Week also responded to what they call Hillary Clinton’s dirty attack on Bernie Sanders:

Hillary Clinton took aim at Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care plan on Monday, characterizing it as “turning over your and my health insurance to governors,” specifically naming Republican Terry Branstad. It’s a pretty clear reference to the many conservative states that have refused ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion — implying that Sanders would allow conservative states to opt out of his plan, and hence partially destroy all federal health insurance programs.

This is absolutely false.

After showing how Clinton is lying about Sanders’ plan, the article concluded with what is obviously happening: “In any case, it’s obvious what’s happening here. Clinton has been flagging in the polls of late, and as usual she’s turned to fighting dirty.”

Clinton’s use of such dirty attacks on Sanders’ support for a true universal health care plan is quite a flip-flop considering that in 2008, while also launching dishonest attacks on Obama’s health care plan, Clinton equated any disagreement with her plan with the tactics of Karl Rove. The Sanders campaign issued this response (with the video above):

Hillary Clinton once said it “undermined core Democratic values” and gives “aid and comfort” to the special interests and “their allies in the Republican Party” for Democrats to attack each other’s health care plans. Today, in another flip-flop, she’s doing exactly what she once decried.

In the wake of new polls showing that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is gaining ground or leading in the Iowa caucuses, Clinton’s campaign has stepped up attacks on Sanders and his health care proposal. The most recent volley is an attack on Sanders’ plan to create a Medicare-for-all health care system for all Americans.

Clinton’s attacks on a Democratic Party rival over universal health care marks a very public flip flop by her and her campaign. She is now using the same Karl Rove tactics she once decried in this video.

Clinton is also repeating her dishonest attacks on Bernie Sander’s record on guns. She is basing this on votes from several years ago, ignoring the fact that bills have a lot of components and Sanders’ votes based upon some aspects of a bill does not indicate an opposition to gun control.

In reality, Sanders has received a lifetime grade of D- from the NRA (along with at least one F) due to gun control measures which he has supported, including bans on assault weapons, restrictions on concealed weapons, ending the “gun-show loophole,” and expanded background checks, plus opposing shortening waiting periods. Democracy for America has dismissed Clinton’s attacks on Sanders’ gun record by saying “talk like that is so absurdly false it’s almost funny.”

Clinton has also been far to the right of her current position on gun control in the past, such as when she debated Barack Obama in 2008. Clinton has taken multiple positions on gun control over the years, campaigning even further to the right at times in 2008 when she described herself as a “pro-gun churchgoer.” Despite her major flip-flops on guns, Clinton also sent out a dishonest flier attacking Obama on guns, just one way she is repeating the same dishonest tactics employed in her unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

Clinton’s dishonest attacks on Sanders so far appear to be backfiring, as donations to Sanders have increased in response to these attacks, which is not the first time Sanders has raised money off dishonest attacks from the Clinton campaign. Plus opposition to the nomination of Hillary Clinton appears to be getting stronger among liberals. Charles Chamberlain, the Executive Director of Democracy for America, concluded his response to Clinton’s lies on Sanders record with this:

“…regardless of who wins our nomination, the goal of Democrats holding on to the White House in 2016 is being made more difficult every second the Clinton campaign continues to distort the facts on Bernie Sanders’s strong record against gun violence and attack a core progressive idea like universal healthcare.

“Bernie Sanders and any Democrat can beat right-wing attacks when they’re leveled by Republicans, but Democrats taking those same swings only hurts our ability to unite the Democratic coalition we need to win in November.

Update: Clinton’s lead down to two points in Des Moines Register poll (withing margin of error).

Smoking Gun In Latest Email Release Could Potentially End Hillary Clinton’s Political Career

Clinton Email

Email released during the middle of the night might bring about the end of Hillary Clinton’s political career, and possibly result in  felony charges against her. One of the emails shows Clinton instructing an aide to remove the “identifying heading” and send information trough non-secure channels when they were having difficulty sending over secure fax.  The Hill reports:

In order to speed up the transmission of a set of talking points, Hillary Clinton asked an aide to send information to her through a “nonsecure” channel.

In an email marked June 17, 2011, that was released by the State Department on Friday, Clinton informs aide Jake Sullivan that she has not yet received a set of talking points.

“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax,” Sullivan says. “They’re working on it.”

“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” Clinton responds.

It is not clear what the contents of the email were, whether information sent was classified or secure or whether the order was carried out.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the email “disturbing.”

“The State Department’s latest Freedom of Information Act release contains a disturbing email that appears to show the former Secretary of State instructing a subordinate to remove the headings from a classified document and send it to her in an unsecure manner,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“It raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server,” he added.

If Hillary Clinton did instruct someone to remove the markings on classified information and send it over her private email system, this would be a felony, violating laws such as such as U.S. Code 793. The question remains whether the information was classified, but from the context it is hard to accept any other explanation. If the information wasn’t classified, it wouldn’t have been an issue that they were having difficulty with the secure fax.  Ed Morrissey’s thoughts on this are hard to argue with:

  • Unclassified material doesn’t need to be transmitted by secure fax; if the material wasn’t classified, Sullivan would have had them faxed normally.
  • Ordering aides to remove headers to facilitate the transmission over unsecured means strongly suggests that the information was not unclassified. On top of that, removing headers to avoid transmission security would be a violation of 18 USC 793 anyway, which does not require material to be classified — only sensitive to national security.

Contrary to Clinton’s previous claims that she did not send or receive classified email on her private server, by McClatchy’s count there were at least 1,340 emails contained classified material, including sixty-six in the latest release. While not marked as classified, “intelligence officials say some material was clearly classified at the time. Her aides also sent and received classified information.” As Reuters explained in August, when a smaller amount of classified information had already been discovered in Clinton’s email, this information could have been “born classified” and be considered classified regardless of whether the State Department had labeled it classified:

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House’s National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”

Reuters’ findings may add to questions that Clinton has been facing over her adherence to rules concerning sensitive government information. Spokesmen for Clinton declined to answer questions, but Clinton and her staff maintain she did not mishandle any information.

“I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified,” Clinton told reporters at a campaign event in Nevada on Tuesday.

Although it appears to be true for Clinton to say none of her emails included classification markings, a point she and her staff have emphasized, the government’s standard nondisclosure agreement warns people authorized to handle classified information that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form.

Two of the emails were previously “top secret” with one later downgraded to “secret.”

Previously there were questions as to whether Clinton’s actions were intentional or if she understood enough about the computer systems to understand what was occurring. This email statement, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure” should end the possibility of any defense along these lines.

The email also displayed further evidence of Clinton’s attitude that the rules which apply to others do not apply to her. The latest batch of emails include one where Clinton was surprised that a staffer was using private email. As I noted in this summary of the email scandal from July, an ambassador under Clinton was fired with failure to abide by rules against using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here).

With the FBI investigating Clinton’s email practices at the State Department, there has been growing speculation in recent weeks that she will be facing criminal charges. While this tends to be more in the conservative media, it does appear that the FBI had already stepped up its probe late in 2015, and this latest “smoking gun” should increase the chances.

At this point nobody outside of the FBI knows were their probe is headed, but regardless of whether Clinton is indicted, her violations of Obama’s stricter standards for government transparency initiated in 2009, along with previous regulations, unethically receiving money (in the form of donations to the Foundation and extraordinarily high speaking fees to Bill, as well as questions of improperly handling classified information will be a major impediment to running in a general election, should Clinton fight off a challenge from Bernie Sanders which is looking much like Obama’s challenge eight years ago in terms of generating support, including a thirteen point lead today in New Hampshire.

Joe Biden said this week that he regrets his decision not to run “every day.” With many Democratic Party insiders appearing determined to keep Sanders from winning the nomination, it is just possible that they might offer Biden a second chance should they recognize how damaging the latest emails could be to Clinton’s election chances, or should she be indicted.

Sanders Comes Close To Clinton In Fund Raising For Second Consecutive Quarter Despite Depending On Small Donors

Sanders Contributions

Bernie Sanders has raised over $33 million dollars in the fourth quarter, nearly matching Clinton’s reported contributions of $37 million, without the big money donors she has. While Clinton got off to an earlier start in 2015, Sanders has come close to her in the past two quarters. The Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s fundraising, which continues to be fueled largely by small online donations, ensures that he will be in a position to compete, however, with the party’s front-runner through the first several nominating contests, which begin next month in Iowa and New Hampshire…

Aides to Sanders touted a figure showing that 99.9 percent of Sanders’s financial supporters have given less than the legal maximum of $2,700, meaning they can be tapped again if Sanders performs strongly in the early caucuses and primaries. To date, they said, more than 1 million people have given to the campaign of the self-described democratic socialist, who was initially written off as a fringe candidate when he entered the race.

“What we are showing is that we can run a strong, national campaign without a super PAC and without depending on millionaires and billionaires for their support,” said Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “We are making history, and we are proud of it.”

Sanders entered the new year with $28.4 million in the bank for his primary campaign, compared to the nearly $38 million the Clinton campaign said it had on hand as of Dec. 31…

Aides said Sanders has built a stable of 1 million donors more quickly than any other White House candidate. In 2008, Barack Obama did not report receiving a contribution from his one millionth donor until Feb. 27 of the election year, they said.

CNN added information on how Sanders has spent the money he has raised:

The final quarter of 2015 also saw Sanders dramatically increase his spending. According to aides, the campaign ended 2015 with $28.4 million cash on hand. That is only $2 million more than the $26.2 million the campaign had in the bank at the end of the third quarter of 2015, meaning Sanders’ operation spent the bulk of what they raised in the fourth quarter.

Much of that spending, according to aides, was focused on building infrastructure in early primary states, including deploying organizers to South Carolina and Nevada, and building the campaign’s already existing organization in Iowa and New Hampshire.

For the year, Sanders’ campaign spent 61% of the money it brought in.

As in the third quarter, when Sanders finished slightly behind Clinton in fund raising, Sanders raised his money primarily from small donations. I don’t have specifics yet for this quarter, but in the third quarter 17.6 percent of Clinton’s donations were from small donors compared to 76.7 percent for Sanders. This could pay off if the nomination battle continues into the spring as Sanders supporters can continue to contribute while far more of Clinton’s contributors have reached the maximum. This might not actually hurt Clinton considering the unprecedented (and possibly illegal) degree to which she coordinates with her super PAC.

The unprecedented number of individuals donating towards the Sanders campaign demonstrates a commitment towards changing the status quo, as opposed to continuing the politics of Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponents. This hopefully indicates that many more new voters will also turn out in the caucuses and primaries than the pollsters are predicting.

Many polls use screens such as having participated in the last two votes to determine whether someone is a likely voter, excluding many Sanders supporters, especially those not old enough to vote eight years ago. This is just one of several reasons why polls of primary races quite often differ substantially from the actual result. On the one hand, Sanders is behind Clinton in the polls for the nomination (while often out-performing her in general election match-ups against Republicans). On the other hand, Sanders is in a position quite similar to the one Obama was in heading into the Iowa caucus. He does face greater challenges in some respects compared to Obama, but Clinton also has even more baggage to defend now than eight years ago, including scandals, the hawkish positions she has taken both as Secretary of State and during the campaign, and her attacks on Sanders from the right on domestic policy.