Democratic Elector States He Will Not Vote For Clinton In Electoral College

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An elector in Washington has reminded us of another way in which this strange election year can become even stranger. AP reports that an elector (photo above), who had supported Bernie Sanders, states he will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the electoral college:

A Democratic elector in Washington state said Friday he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton even if she wins the popular vote in his state on Election Day, adding a degree of suspense when the Electoral College affirms the election results next month.

Robert Satiacum, a member of Washington’s Puyallup Tribe, supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He said he believes Clinton is a “criminal” who doesn’t care enough about American Indians and “she’s done nothing but flip back and forth.”

He said he has wrestled with what to do, but feels that neither Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump can lead the country.

“She will not get my vote, period,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Unless Clinton should show a further drop in the polls, I doubt that the electoral college vote will come down to a single vote, but yesterday I did show a plausible scenario in which it was a near tie. This scenario showed a tie or Trump winning by a single vote, but if this is plausible then there are also possibilities in which Clinton wins exactly 270 electoral votes and the loss of one will prevent a victory. If one elector is saying this publically, there is also the possibility of other electors doing the same, in both parties.

Third party candidates also have a  small chance of winning a state, which could prevent a major party candidate from reaching 270 electoral votes. This has been the hope of both Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who is very unlikely to win a state, and independent Evan McMullin, who has been polling well in Utah. Some Sanders supporters are also hoping that he can win Vermont on write-in votes, but chances of that are very remote with Sanders not even campaigning.

If no candidates obtain 270 electoral votes, the election will be decided by the House of Representatives, a scenario not seen in the United States since the last season of Veep, or in reality occurring only in the 1800 and 1824 elections. Members of the House can choose between the candidates with the top three number of electors. Supporters of third party candidates, along with some Sanders supporters, hope that members of the House will reject both Trump and Clinton and vote for their candidate, choosing the third place finisher. Someone who receives even a single electoral vote from an elector such as the one in Washington could come in third and be in contention. The vote is by state, coming down to which party dominates each state’s delegation. Republicans will win unless there is a Democratic sweep this year in Congress far beyond what anyone thinks is possible.

While any scenario involving anyone other than Clinton or Trump becoming president is highly unlikely, the most likely of the remote possibilities would be if Johnson or McMullin win a state, or if some Republican electors vote for an establishment Republican such as Mike Pence or Mitt Romney for president. Then there is a remote chance that House Republicans could wind up voting for someone other than Trump. If Republicans are divided, there is also the possibility that Democrats could join in support of a Republican other than Trump.

Update: Think Progress reports that a second elector from Washington has said they might not vote for Clinton. On the one hand, it is understandable that a pro-Clinton site such as this would be very upset by the prospect. On the other hand, Democrats should have thought through the ramifications of nominating a candidate as unfit to be president as Clinton.

FBI Dominating Election News Going Into Final Weekend Of Campaign

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In an election in which the issues have received far too little attention, it is now news regarding the FBI which is dominating the election news. One key development is that CBS News reports that the FBI has found email related to Hillary Clinton’s work at the State Department on the computer used by Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner:

The FBI has found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner, according to a U.S. official.

These emails, CBS News’ Andres Triay reports, are not duplicates of emails found on Secretary Clinton’s private server. At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.

This provides some vindication for James Comey, who has been attacked by Clinton and her allies for sending the letter to Congress advising them of the change in status of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s home email server.

Reuters also provided further confirmation that, as I have suggested earlier, that one reason it was best for Comey to make the letter public was that it was likely that news of the investigation of Weiner’s computer would leak out. A leaked report of an FBI investigation, or allowing the news to be released by Congressional Republicans, who would have spun it even more unfavorably towards Clinton, could have been more harmful.

It remains unclear as to how much the tightening in the polls have been related to this as the polls were already getting closer before last Friday. I suspect that most voters’ minds had already been made up regarding the email scandal and that it would take bigger news than this to alter the election results.

It does appear that the report I mentioned yesterday from Bret Baier of Fox News claiming an indictment is likely regarding the pay-for-play activities involving the Clinton Foundation have not been substantiated, with other sources calling the report baseless. While Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State were highly unethical, and in violation of the ethics agreements she entered into, I have doubted that they will be able to get sufficient evidence to prosecute this many years later, especially as the political appointees in the Justice Department have opposed such an investigation (creating friction with career officials).

Regardless of how much impact the FBI’s actions have on the election, at this point Clinton continues to hold a narrowing lead in the polls. After it looked like Clinton might win by a landslide a couple of weeks ago, Nate Silver now finds Clinton to be in a worse position compared to Obama in recent elections. When looking at electoral maps, it no longer looks as impossible for Trump to win, but it would be difficult. Trump would have to win in all the toss-up states, and likely will need at least one blue state. Instead of Clinton fighting for upsets in red states, she now has to concentrate on holding onto states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, with her especially vulnerable in the last. As Nate Silver put it:

If Clinton lost New Hampshire but won her other firewall states, each candidate would finish with 269 electoral votes, taking the election to the House of Representatives. Or maybe not — if Clinton also lost the 2nd Congressional District of Maine, where polls show a tight race and where the demographics are unfavorable to her, Trump would win the Electoral College 270-268, probably despite losing the popular vote.

On the other hand, states such as Florida, North Carolina, and Florida remain competitive, and a win for Clinton in just one could clinch the election. These are definitely states to watch Tuesday night. As Silver has also suggested, there is a real possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college. She could exceed Obama’s popular vote numbers by doing better than he did in red states such as Texas, but this will probably not translate into electoral votes.

Update: As expected, the resumed investigation has changed nothing. We continue to have evidence of Clinton violating the rules intended to increase government transparency, that she handled classified information improperly, and that she has lied on multiple occasions regarding the scandal, but there will be no prosection.

Hillary Clinton’s Nixonian Attacks On The Rule Of Law

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There have been many disturbing things to come out of this election, from both sides. This includes the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny from Donald Trump, and the McCarthyism from Hillary Clinton in her attempts to distract from her own transgressions and attacks on opponents by raising Russia. The latest outrage of the campaign has been the attacks on James Comey from Clinton and her supporters after last week’s announcement.

The Clinton attacks on Comey are a direct attack on the rule of law. They remind me of the Saturday Night Massacre when Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, attempting to block the Watergate investigation. The attacks are purely politically motivated. There is no doubt that if Comey had made a statement regarding an investigation into Donald Trump, the same Democrats would be applauding Comey, and would have been appalled if Trump had criticized Comey. The Clintons had no objection when a Republican was indicted four days before the election in 1992, in what was seen by some as an attempt to sway the election in Bill Clinton’s favor.

The partisan nature of how Comey’s announcement is being interpreted is verified in a Morning Consult poll. The New York Times reports:

In an online Morning Consult poll of approximately 3,200 registered voters, only 19 percent agreed with the statement that prosecutors should wait until after Election Day to make announcements about investigations concerning political figures or elected officials. Instead, 60 percent agreed that prosecutors should be able to make announcements about investigations concerning political figures or elected officials close to Election Day even if it might affect the election. (Another 21 percent said they don’t know or had no opinion.)

Not surprisingly, these results differ along partisan lines. Democrats were five times more likely than Republicans to say prosecutors should wait to make announcements about political figures (33 percent versus 6 percent). Conversely, people who identified as Republicans were much more likely than Democrats to endorse the idea of announcing cases before elections (79 percent versus 47 percent).

To understand the extent to which partisanship affects people’s opinions on the issue, Morning Consult asked the same question to three randomly selected groups. The first group saw a generic statement without reference to Mrs. Clinton or Donald J. Trump, which yielded the results described above. Other groups were prompted with either a statement about the F.B.I. inquiry into Mrs. Clinton or one about the New York attorney general’s investigation into the practices of Mr. Trump’s foundation.

When the investigation into Mrs. Clinton was mentioned before the question, partisans differed by almost 50 percentage points in their attitude toward pre-election disclosures, which were endorsed by 83 percent of Republicans but just 34 percent of Democrats — an even larger gap than observed with the generic prompt. By contrast, mentioning Mr. Trump’s foundation eliminated the gap between the parties in support for publicizing investigations, which was backed by 57 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans.

The lesson from these findings is clear: The public wants to know everything it can about the candidates in advance, especially if they are from the other party.

***

In related news, Jon Stewart attacked Donald Trump at a charity event over the matters I mentioned in the opening paragraph.

In follow-up of a post yesterday, Foreign Policy columnist James Bamford, provides further reason to cast doubt on the Clinton conspiracy theories linking Donald Trump and Russia.

Walker Bragman  looks at the reaction to Comey’s statement for Paste Magazine and wrote, If Trump Wins Due to the FBI’s October Surprise, Hillary Clinton Has Nobody to Blame But Herself. He pointed out how Clinton did this to herself by using the private server (violating rules then in effect), the DNC made matters worse in how they tilted the election towards Clinton (in violation of party rules), that Comey had no better options than to handle this as he did, and that Clinton is setting a dangerous precedent in her attacks on Comey. He concluded:

Put another way, an embattled candidate for public office who happens to be under criminal investigation by the FBI for mistakes she made is using the court of public opinion to intimidate the agency’s director. If Clinton succeeds, and the agency is in any way influenced in its investigation, she will have truly damaged American democracy, establishing different rules for public figures. The whole point of our justice system is its impartiality, and it will be utterly compromised.

Even if Comey’s actions turn out to be politically motivated—in which case he will have committed an egregious offense—Clinton’s actions are troubling.

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Despite Clinton Conspiracy Theories, FBI Finds No Clear Link Between Trump And Russia

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Donald Trump has many other faults, but The New York Times reports that the FBI has found no clear link between Trump and Russia:

For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters, angry over what they regard as a lack of scrutiny of Mr. Trump by law enforcement officials, pushed for these investigations. In recent days they have also demanded that James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., discuss them publicly, as he did last week when he announced that a new batch of emails possibly connected to Mrs. Clinton had been discovered.

The Clinton campaign has been trying to blame many of their problems on Russia, imagining a conspiracy between Trump and Putin and engaging in what has felt like Cold War era red-baiting.

Clinton and Putin have a long history of distrust for each other, and, while there is no clear evidence, it is possible that Putin did desire to interfere in Clinton’s election in retaliation for what he perceived as Clinton interfering in Russian elections along with her views on regime change. From Politico:

…nothing angered Putin as much as Clinton’s statement about Russia’s December 2011 parliamentary elections, which produced widespread allegations of fraud and vote-rigging on behalf of Putin allies. At a conference in Lithuania, Clinton issued a biting statement saying that the Russian people “deserve to have their voices heard and their votes counted, and that means they deserve fair, free transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.” Some Obama officials felt the provocative statement went too far…

Whether Putin genuinely believed that Clinton was plotting his overthrow is another question. But he has repeatedly criticized the U.S. for “regime change” policies that have toppled authoritarians in other countries, including Iraq and Libya, that Clinton supported. In the latter case, Putin was furious when a 2011 U.S. and European military operation billed as humanitarian — and advocated by Clinton — evolved into a de facto campaign against dictator Muammar Qadhafi.

Putin reportedly obsessed over Qadhafi’s violent death in Kremlin meetings. The graphic video of the Libya ruler’s bloodied body being dragged by a mob is often replayed on Russian television, along with Clinton’s wisecrack about the executed strongman: “We came, we saw, he died.”

It has been a goal of Clinton’s fellow neoconservatives to also achieve regime change in Russia, similar to Iraq and Libya, and Clinton has threatened war with Russia. Even prior to this threat, Putin and other Russian leaders have believed that the election of Clinton would mean war between the United States and Russia, giving them motivation to oppose Clinton without any plots between Trump and Putin.

Another story in The New York Times describes how Donald Trump Used Legally Dubious Method to Avoid Paying Taxes.

Update: Slate reviewed some of the suspicious behavior which has suggested communications between the Trump Organization and Russia.

Email Scandal Again Affecting Clinton And Election

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This unpredictable election race suddenly became more complicated on Friday. For months I had been warning that nominating Hillary Clinton, with her history of serious ethical transgressions, was not only an improper move by the Democratic establishment, but also a politically risky move. While it is doubtful she could have beaten any other Republicans, the repeated acts of self-destruction by Donald Trump appeared to placed Clinton on path for a safe victory. The race had already become tighter, with Trump narrowing the gap in some polls, pulling within two percent in the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll. A dramatic new development in the email scandal now means that Clinton cannot run on the clock, and might not win by the margins predicted just a few days ago.

We actually know very little other than that material found during the FBI probe into Anthony Weiner sexting a minor has led the FBI to reopen their investigation of Hillary Clinton and her private server. It is hard to believe that the James Comey would have made such an announcement this close to the election unless there was something significant. We have no meaningful information yet and and at this point it is all speculation. Among the possibilities are that classified information might have turned up on a computer or phone used by Weiner and/or his wife Huma Abedin. Possibly there might be email exchanges which shed more light on the question of intent. While the law does not stipulate that intent is a factor, the double standard applied to Hillary Clinton, as opposed to others who have mishandled classified information, has required evidence of intent in her case.

As is typical of Clinton and her supporters, the immediate response was to attack the messenger, with attacks on James Comey for sending his letter this week. In reality, Comey had no choice. He had testified before Congress that the investigation was closed, making him obligated to inform Congress of the change in status. If he failed to divulge this until after the election he would have been accused of playing politics. It is also questionable if this could have been kept secret. Many career officials at the FBI and Department of Justice have reportedly been upset with Comey’s decision not to recommend indictment of Clinton, and might have leaked the fact they are now looking into new evidence.

Unless there is a bigger bombshell, Clinton will most likely still win, with tribalism leading most traditional Democratic voters to stick with her. Trump has also alienated far too many people, for good reason, to fully capitalize on this development. Still, we have an unusual election in which the majority dislikes and distrusts both major party candidates. Whichever has their negatives most strongly in the minds of the voters on election day will suffer. Clinton is faced not only with the email scandal, but with a steady release of embarrassing information from Wikileaks, including most recently how the Clinton Foundation was used to sell influence for the personal financial gain of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The headlines shifting from Trump bragging about assaulting women to the Clinton scandals can have an impact, both on the presidential election and on down ticket Democratic candidates. It also also likely that Clinton’s opposition researchers will release something new this week to attempt to put the attention back on Trump.

While James Comey previously said that no prosecutor would bring the case against Hillary Clinton, his statement was quite harmful to Clinton, showing both that she was extremely careless with classified information and that her defense of her actions in statements to the American people and before Congress were not truthful. The mishandling of classified information is only one aspect of the scandal, with the State Department Inspector General report also showing that she violated the rules put into effect to promote government transparency, failed to cooperate with the investigation, and has repeatedly lied about her actions. Clinton also violated the ethics agreements she entered into before being confirmed as Secretary of State, casting considerable doubt as to whether she should subsequently be trusted with another government position especially the presidency.

Clinton very well could still win due to all the problems with Donald Trump, but hopefully voters will realize that, even if they see Clinton as the lesser evil, she still deserves an extraordinary degree of scrutiny should she become president.

Donald Trump Is Right On This One: Hillary Clinton’s Syria Policy Could Lead Us Into World War III

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When Donald Trump says something stupid, such as when he botched his comments on Obamacare today, or when he claimed that he is the only Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton, that is a “dog bites man” story. We have come to expect this from Donald Trump, who is  running the most inept campaign for president that I have ever seen. The more interesting “man bites dog” story, one of the rare times when Trump gets it right, was with Trump warning of the risk of Hillary Clinton getting us involved in World War III.

Donald Trump had this to say in an interview with Reuter’s:

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Democrat Hillary Clinton’s plan for Syria would “lead to World War Three,” because of the potential for conflict with military forces from nuclear-armed Russia.

In an interview focused largely on foreign policy, Trump said defeating Islamic State is a higher priority than persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, playing down a long-held goal of U.S. policy…

On Syria’s civil war, Trump said Clinton could drag the United States into a world war with a more aggressive posture toward resolving the conflict.

Clinton has called for the establishment of a no-fly zone and “safe zones” on the ground to protect non-combatants. Some analysts fear that protecting those zones could bring the United States into direct conflict with Russian warplanes.

“What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria,” said Trump as he dined on fried eggs and sausage links at his Trump National Doral golf resort. “You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton,” he said.

“You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk,” he said…

On Russia, Trump again knocked Clinton’s handling of U.S.-Russian relations while secretary of state and said her harsh criticism of Putin raised questions about “how she is going to go back and negotiate with this man who she has made to be so evil,” if she wins the presidency.

While I have also expressed concerns about Trump’s general incoherence on foreign policy, I have previously noted the same dangers as Trump discussed in Clinton’s history of belligerence towards Russia. As I discussed after Clinton repeated her support for a no-fly zone in Syria during the last debate, this is a very dangerous policy. Last  month Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford testified before Congress that imposing a no-fly zone “would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia.” Clinton admitted that “you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians” in one of her leaked Goldman-Sachs speeches.

Spencer Ackerman also wrote in The Guardian Why Hillary Clinton’s plans for no-fly zones in Syria could provoke US-Russia conflict.

The proposal of no-fly zones has been fiercely debated in Washington for the past five years, but has never attracted significant enthusiasm from the military because of the risk to pilots from Syrian air defenses and the presence of Russian warplanes.

Many in US national security circles consider the risk of an aerial confrontation with the Russians to be severe.

“I wouldn’t put it past them to shoot down an American aircraft,” said James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, on Tuesday in response to a question from the Guardian at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Those who have patrolled no-fly zones over the relatively freer skies of Bosnia and Saddam-era Iraq fear that a President Clinton would oblige the US to what one retired US air force three-star general described as an indefinite “air occupation”. Such a move would risk the lives of US pilots – and dare confrontation with a Russian military which is more aggressive than it has been in years.

Critics of the plan also question how using US military power to establish and police a safe space for beleaguered Syrian civilians would contribute to the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad – the explicit goal of US policy in Syria.

“If she is not politically posturing, it’s going to be a disaster. I hope it’s political posturing,” said John Kuehn, a retired navy officer who flew no-fly zone missions over Bosnia and Iraq. Kuehn who called denying an adversary its airspace “the cocktail party military application of power of choice”.

David Deptula, a retired air force lieutenant general who commanded the no-fly zone operations over northern Iraq in 1998 and 1999, said the Russians were a “complicating factor” but considered the problems with a no-fly zone to be more fundamental…

The challenges for a no-fly zone over Syria outstrip those the US has faced over Libya, Bosnia and Iraq. Assad’s surface-to-air missiles, protecting the Mediterranean coast and southern regions the regime still controls, were formidable before the recent Russian addition of what Clapper, a former air force general, called “very advanced” S-300 and S-400 systems that can blanket the majority of Syrian airspace with missiles.

Staging a no-fly zone requires either the assent of regional allies – Turkey is the nearest potential partner to Syria, but it has concentrated in recent months on improving ties with Moscow after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet in November 2015 – or an expensive, open-ended and risky deployment of aircraft carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean.

But the most distinguishing feature of a Syria no-fly zone in 2017 would be the aerial presence of another great-power air force with an objective which is diametrically opposed to Washington’s.

Even without the involvement of Russia, a no-fly zone is a major military undertaking, likely to drag us into a larger war in Syria. The added problem of Russia’s involvement very well could lead to World War III. There are many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, but that does not mean that voting for Hillary Clinton is a wise choice either, as a vote for Hillary Clinton is essentially a vote for war.

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Hillary Clinton Finally Finds A Job She Can Handle At Al Smith Dinner

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Hillary Clinton botched health care reform terribly as First Lady, setting us back a generation. She was an atrocious Senator, taking the wrong position on the big issues of the day, including the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, while spending her time introducing legislation such as a bill to make flag burning a felony and working with The Fellowship to further the goals of the religious right. She was a failed Secretary of State, between her disastrous intervention in Libya, her violation of the ethics agreements she entered into, and her violation of rules initiated to promote government transparency. I fear the outcome of her becoming president. However, last night we did see her do one job very well–mocking Donald Trump (who fortunately will never become president) at the Al Smith Dinner.

Hillary Clinton did an excellent job–video above and transcript here. Some of her best lines:

It’s a treat for all of you, too, because I charge a lot for speeches like this.

People look at the Statue of Liberty and they see a proud symbol of our history as a nation of immigrants. A beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald sees the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4. Maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.

Now, I’m going to try my best tonight, but I understand I am not known for my sense of humor. That’s why it did take a village to write these jokes.

And, you know, because this is a friendly dinner for such a great cause; Donald, if at any time, you don’t like what I’m saying feel free to stand up and shout “Wrong!” while I’m talking.

You know, come to think of it, it’s amazing I’m up here after Donald. I didn’t think he’d be okay with a peaceful transition of power.

And Donald, after listening to your speech, I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.

Donald Trump did not receive as good a reception. Video above and transcript here. Some highlights and lowlights:

And even tonight, with all of the heated back and forth, between my opponent and me at the debate last night, we have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, “Pardon me.”
And I very politely replied, “Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.”

You know, the president told me to stop whining, but I really have to say, the media is even more biased this year than ever before — ever. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it — it’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech — and people get on her case.

I’d like to address an important religious matter: the issue of going to confession. Or, as Hillary calls it, the Fourth of July weekend with FBI Director Comey.

Hillary is so corrupt, she got kicked off the Watergate Commission.
How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission? Pretty corrupt. Hillary is, and has been, in politics since the 70s. What’s her pitch? The economy is busted? The government’s corrupt? Washington is failing? “Vote for me. I’ve been working on these problems for 30 years. I can fix it”, she says.

We’ve learned so much from WikiLeaks. For example, Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy — and a totally different policy in private. That’s okay. I don’t know who they’re angry at Hillary, you or I. For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.

Donald Trump was booed for many of these lines. Was it because he crossed the line, or was it because the audience was not familiar with the content in the leaked Wikileaks emails which were the basis of some of these jokes? Regardless, Hillary Clinton definitely did a much better job at taking down the opponent (much as she has done at the debates), and was even the more amusing of the two, even if it did take a village to write her jokes.

Final Presidential Debate Shows Neither Candidate Is Acceptable

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The final presidential debate (transcript here, with fact checking) provided further confirmation that neither major party candidate is fit to be president, but Hillary Clinton is a far better debater than Donald Trump. Even when Trump had a valid point against Clinton, he lacked the ability to stay on target, drifting into irrelevances and lacking a sufficient command of the pertinent facts. On the other hand, I wish the debate included a split screen–one showing Clinton delivering her public policy, and the other revealing her private policy.

It was fitting that the final debate took place in Sin City. Donald Trump reportedly invited the woman who accused Bill Clinton of groping her to the debate. He dwells too much on things that don’t matter. Who is going to vote against Hillary (that otherwise would vote for her) based upon Bill’s sexual indiscretions? It just is not relevant.

Chris Wallace, who might have done the best job of the debate moderators, did start out with real issues. Clinton was far better than Trump on abortion and guns. Trump apparently has no idea how rare late term abortions are, or the reasons they usually occur. Like many Republicans, he does not appear to realize that the Bill of Rights includes anything beyond the Second Amendment, although Clinton also has a rather poor record on civil liberties. Trump was also his usual atrocious self when the debate turned to immigration. When Trump complained about Justice Ginsberg  making  “statements that should have never, ever been made,” I only thought that Donald Trump is the last person to be able to complain about “statements that should have never, ever been made.”

Clinton was not as bad in terms of evading the questions as she was during the second debate, but that is largely due to the types of questions asked. When she was asked about the emails released by Wikileaks, she pivoted to attack Russia. The leaks may or may not have been due to Russia, but her attacks on Russia remind me all too much of the attacks on Saddam for imaginary WMD by Bush, and false claims by Hillary Clinton of connections between Saddam and al Qaeda. What is important is the content of the leaks, and the dishonesty they revealed about Clinton. Besides, the United States is certainly not above comparable spying and interference in other countries, and I fear Clinton is misusing this matter as part of the overall neocon view on Russia.

Clinton’s belligerence towards Russia, and the increased threat of war, should be one of the major issues of the campaign. Trump would be preferable in his desire for cooperation with Russia if he wasn’t completely incoherent on foreign policy. Instead of rationally debating Clinton on this issue, his argument consisted of  “No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

Trump was right on pointing out how Clinton avoided the question of the content of the Wikileaks email, but rather than push the issue, he resorted to his usual nonsense of how Clinton refers to “radical Islamic terrorism,” as if saying the right magic words are needed to defeat them.

As the debate went on, Clinton called for equal pay for equal work, with no explanation for the huge pay gap at the Clinton Foundation which was exposed by Wikileaks. Trump was right in calling out Clinton for her flip-flops on TPP which were exposed by the fact checkers. When Trump was confronted by all the women who have accused him of assaulting them, he was the one to evade and pivot, returning to Clinton’s email.

Both candidates attacked the integrity of the other, and both were right here.  Clinton violated the ethics agreements she entered into when she was confirmed as Secretary of State, while Trump appears to have used his far shadier for bribes. Clinton again ignored the significance of the FBI report showing considerable dishonesty on her part when this was raised, and either Wallace or Trump should have brought up the State Department Inspector General report which showed she violated the rules, failed to cooperate with the investigation, and tried to cover-up her actions.

Clinton said she was going to “continue to push for a no-fly zone” in Syria, but there was no discussion of the large number of deaths this would result in, or the risk of a direct confrontation with Russia.  Initiating a no-fly zone would be a tremendous military undertaking. Just last month, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford testified before Congress that imposing a no-fly zone “would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia.” Clinton admitted that “you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians” in one of her leaked Goldman-Sachs speeches.

The sad thing about the debate, and the entire campaign, is that such major issues of war and peace are being ignored, while the media dwells on the latest stupid thing said by Donald Trump–such as whether Donald Trump will accept the election result. This statement, while imprudent and potentially ominous, is hardly unprecedented. The real story of the election is not sexual misconduct, as reprehensible as Trump’s actions were, but the fact that our democracy has devolved to a point where we are given a choice of an ignorant buffoon like Trump or a corrupt war-monger like Clinton–with alternative viewpoints not welcome.

Further Revelations Worsen Email Scandal And Demonstrate Clinton Dishonesty & Corruption

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The evidence continues to increase that, regardless of how the presidential election comes out, we will have a dishonest and crooked president in the White House. It is much more likely that it will be Hillary Clinton considering the death spiral which Trump’s campaign has gone into. Clinton continues to lead the race despite a steady stream of bad news which receives far less attention than Trump’s sex scandals.

Clinton continues to be harmed by the email scandal or, as Chris Cillizza put it, Hillary Clinton’s email problems just came roaring back:

On Monday, however, the various issues associated with Clinton’s email setup came roaring back. According to emails released by the FBI, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the FBI to ease up on classification decisions in exchange for allowing more FBI agents in countries where they were not permitted to go. The words “quid pro quo” were used to describe the proposed exchange by the FBI official. (The State Department insists it was no such thing; “This allegation is inaccurate and does not align with the facts,” said State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner in a statement. “To be clear: the State Department did upgrade the document at the request of the FBI when we released it back in May 2015.”)

The Clinton campaign will, as it has done every time there is any news about whether she sent or received classified material on her private server, chalk this up to an interagency dispute over classification. Typical bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, they will say. This sort of stuff happens all the time!

Except, not really. First of all, we already know from FBI Director James B. Comey that Clinton sent and received emails and information that was classified at the time. (“110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received,” Comey said in his remarkable press conference on the FBI investigation.)  Clinton’s explanation has now evolved to this: She didn’t know documents marked with a “c” meant they were confidential (and therefore classified) and, therefore, she never knowingly sent or received classified material — with the emphasis on “knowingly.”

That’s a tough position to hold in light of Kennedy’s attempted quid pro quo, which suggests that at least some people at State were actively trying to fiddle with classification determinations made by the FBI.

That is a huge point. Regardless of whether the FBI agreed to any quid pro quo, the attempt shows that Clinton staffers, if not Clinton herself, were aware of the classified email being sent over Clinton’s private server. This pretty much guarantees that Republicans will continue to investigate the matter and, if they should retain control of Congress and, if they desire to go down that path, there is serious grounds for impeachment. If Republicans control the Senate, I can also see them denying confirmation of long-time top Clinton aides, should they be appointed to posts requiring Senate confirmation, based upon their actions at the State Department.

Clinton’s ethical problems extend beyond her private email. USA Today reports on further evidence of the unseemly relationships between private donors, the State Department, and the Clinton Foundation:

The nexus among private companies, Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton family foundations is closer and more complex than even Donald Trump has claimed so far.

While it is widely known that some companies and foreign governments gave money to the foundations, perhaps in an effort to gain favor, one of the key parts of the puzzle hasn’t been reported: At least a dozen of those same companies lobbied the State Department, using lobbyists who doubled as major Clinton campaign fundraisers.

Those companies gave as much as $16 million to the Clinton charities. At least four of the lobbyists they hired are “Hillblazers,” the Clinton campaign’s name for supporters who have raised $100,000 or more for her current White House race. Two of the four also raised funds for Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid.

USA TODAY reached these conclusions by obtaining federal lobbying data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics for 2009-2013, Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State. Reporters then compared the data with donor lists made public by the Clinton nonprofits and federal campaign financial records.

These reports are in addition to the multiple Wikileaks revelations over the past several days. This summary notes issues including the expectation of “benefits in return for gifts,” and a one million dollar birthday gift to Bill Clinton from Qatar.

There have been multiple examples of how the Clinton campaign manipulated the press (often with their complete cooperation). One email revealed how they handled a hit-piece against Bernie Sanders which was published under another name, but actually written by the Clinton campaign:

When the Clinton campaign wrote an op-ed on gun violence to post on Medium, the team strategized to determine who they would use as an author in order to maximize the public relations benefits it would yield Hillary Clinton while criticizing Bernie Sanders. “Here’s the draft, which I edited and can personalize depending on who we want to use as an author. A survivor of gun violence? An advocate or family member?” wrote Podesta in a January 2016 email. The post was published with Clai Lasher Sommers as the author, effectively using the high profile gun victim as a political prop.

The transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches demonstrated how cozy Clinton was with Wall Street, only talking about financial reform for political cover. Other speeches showed her bragging about her support for fracking and attacking opponents of fracking, along with the “radical environmentalists” supporting Bernie Sanders.

Shadowproof has a summary of further revelations in the email.

Donald Trump has plenty of issues of his own, including a Foundation which is even shadier than the Clinton Foundation, but this probably will not matter as a combination of his dreadful performance in the first debate and the current sex scandals should prevent him from winning the election.

It is therefore unlikely that these revelations regarding Clinton will affect the general election at this point, but they very well might have affected the outcome of the Democratic primary battle if this information had been released, providing further proof of the accusations against Clinton made by her opponents on the left.

News Media’s Unbalanced Look At Trump Vs. Clinton Revelations

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The news over the past week has been virtually non-stop coverage of Donald Trump. There is no question that the revelations which first confirmed everything suspected about Donald Trump’s view of women and then led to multiple reports of Trump sexually assaulting women deserves major coverage. However, there have also been revelations from the email leaks about major dishonesty and corruption regarding Hillary Clinton which the media has given a small fraction of the coverage to.

A media reporter for The Hill has demonstrated how one-sided the coverage has been:

In viewing recordings by The Hill of each major network’s evening newscasts, which are watched by an average total of 22 million to 24 million people nightly, the newest batch of WikiLeaks revelations was covered for a combined 57 seconds out of 66 minutes of total air time on ABC, NBC and CBS.

Those leaked emails include derogatory comments about Catholics by senior Clinton campaign officials and more disturbing examples of collusion between the media and her campaign It’s newsworthy stuff) —

On the other hand, allegations from four women of unwanted sexual advances by Trump were covered a combined 23 minutes.

Add it all up, and one presidential candidate’s negative news of the day was somehow covered more than 23 times more than another candidate’s negative news of the day.

It’s understood what has always sold in this business: sizzle always trumps steak, sex always triumphs over substance. If you told me the coverage was 2-1 or even a 3-1 ratio of Trump to Clinton, you wouldn’t be reading this column right now.

But a story winning the lead over another is one thing. Devouring it to the point of almost total omission via a more than 23:1 ratio is quite another:

“NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt devoted zero seconds to the Democrat and Wikileaks on Thursday night.

“ABC World News Tonight” with David Muir gave it the same time as a shot clock in college basketball: 30 seconds.

“CBS Evening News” with Scott Pelley when 27 seconds with the story.

To put the importance of evening news editorial into context, the size of the its collective audience each night trounces the highest-rated program on CNN. In Wednesday night’s case, that was “Anderson Cooper 360,” with 1.925 million viewers. On MSNBC, it was “All in with Chris Hayes,” with 1.926 million. On Fox News, it was “The O’Reilly Factor,” with 3.728 million.

Add all of those up, and it’s just shy of 7.6 million, or about one-third the number of people watching ABC, NBC and CBS, the networks presenting — in theory, anyway — straight news stories without the opinion and conjecture that dominates cable news…

Somewhere around 23 million people absorbed Trump getting pulverized for 23 minutes across the Big Three broadcast network evening newscasts.

Less than a minute combined was devoted to damaging documents pertaining to Clinton.

There are probably two different reasons for this discrepancy. First, sex sells. This might justify giving top billing, and possibly even more time, to the stories on Trump. It does not justify virtually ignoring the stories pertaining to Clinton. Secondly, the people in the news media generally prefer Clinton over Trump. Regardless of whether this opinion is justified, this is just bad journalism.

There is also an important reason to place Clinton under more scrutiny. Hillary Clinton will most likely be the next president. The chances of Trump winning are now very remote. Clinton’s history of corruption is directly relevant to what we need to be on guard against for the next four years.

The media has also done a great job of digging into Trump’s past. As I noted at the time of the second presidential debate, once Trump claimed that the leaked video which started this was all talk, he opened himself up to being contradicted by any women who would come forward with stories of actually being sexually assaulted by him.

If only the media would do a better job of looking into Clinton’s past. Donald Trump touching women’s bodies without their consent is inexcusable, but so are the bombs dropped on women (along with children, and men) in wars promoted by Hillary Clinton, often under false pretenses, also inexcusable.

Hillary Clinton pushed for the Iraq war based upon false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda after failing to even read the intelligence material made available to members of the Senate–information which led some other Senators to oppose the war. She similarly orchestrated regime change in Libya with the facts contradicting her arguments for war. She pushed for intervention in Syria on rather irrational grounds, and now joins with other neocons in pushing for further aggression against Russia.

Certainly this is also something of significance for the media to explore, even if less titillating than the stories on Donald Trump.