America Rejects Clinton And The Establishment

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In an election in which both candidates were dreadful, unfortunately only one could lose. Democratic Party leaders rigged the system to nominate the one candidate who could not even beat Donald Trump. If the Democratic Party was democratic during the primaries we could have woken up today to a President-elect Sanders and a Democratic Senate. Instead, in a year in which the voters wanted change, the Democrats picked the most conservative, establishment choice imaginable. Clinton would have been the best president that money could buy. That is a key reason why she lost. Clinton epitomizes everything which is rotten in our system, and in the end that mattered more than even the racism, xenophobia, and shear idiocy of Donald Trump.

We have seen many versions of Donald Trump over the years, and hopefully we will see one of the better versions of Trump in the White House.  He has been inexcusably racist, but has also sought the support of minorities. While he offers no concrete plans for accomplishing these things, he has differed from Republican orthodoxy in expressing support for providing health care to all, preserving Social Security and Medicare, and rebuilding infrastructure. The extreme social conservatism he has expressed as a candidate may have been motivated by political expediency and hopefully will be abandoned. Many past Republicans have appealed to the religious right to get elected, and ignored them once in office. While Trump often appears dangerously incoherent on foreign policy, he could conceivably be an improvement over the neoconservative interventionism of Hillary Clinton. Better relations with Russia could be a favorable outcome of a Trump presidency, not something to oppose as Clinton has. Trump has even supported an end to the drug war in the past, but that was not heard during this campaign.

Even if Trump does turn out to be more moderate than he has been as a candidate, we will see a turn to the right and many undesirable outcomes of his presidency. However, we would also see a sharp turn to the right with Hillary Clinton, who might have been the lesser evil, but who also could have done more harm. Partisan Democrats ignore how much conservative Bill Clinton’s record actually was.This year they fooled themselves into thinking both that Hillary Clinton is a progressive, and that she is not corrupt. They fell for the claims in their echo chamber and sold their souls in the hopes of winning, and did not even wind up with an election victory.

A Clinton presidency would have meant a return to Cold War relations with Russia, and probably surrogate hot wars–at the very least. Clinton has already indicated a willingness to entertain a grand bargain which would cut Social Security, comparable to how the Clinton’s “reformed” welfare. While she would keep abortion legal, she would also probably make it more rare, having indicated a willingness to cooperate with Republicans to enact further restrictions on its availability. Her far right views on civil liberties, and her support for an increased role of religion in public policy, should have been alarming to more on the left.

This would have been a sad day regardless of who won the presidency. The one good thing to come out of this is that there is now hope that the Democratic Party will not remain under the control of neocons and DLC conservatives like Clinton and Kaine. It has been discouraging to see Democrats justify, and even defend, Clinton’s conservative record. Even worse, many have ignored the overwhelming amount of evidence of corruption on Clinton’s part, and how both Clintons have used their government positions to amass great personal wealth. Lack of an indictment is not a sign of innocence. It is an example of  how rotten the system is, and a Clinton victory would have further institutionalized such corruption.

Democrats deserved to lose by nominating Hillary Clinton, but the failure of the party establishment provides an opportunity to change leadership and reform the party. We are already seeing Clinton supporters blaming Bernie supporters, Stein supporters, Russians, the FBI, misogyny, the electoral college for Clinton’s defeat. They blame everyone except those who deserve the blame: Democrats who rigged the nomination for a candidate who is unfit to be president, and of course Hillary Clinton.  Clinton is both unfit to be president, and she ran a terrible campaign. Her message basically consisted of claims of “it’s my turn” and attacks on Donald Trump. She offered very little in terms of a positive message to support her. Trump’s message that the system is corrupt and needs change resonated far more.

While Trump won as the change candidate, much of the change he offers is not the kind of change we need. We must keep a check on Donald Trump. Fortunately our system does provide mechanisms to do so. The chances of doing so are greater if Democrats now defend liberal principles and do stand up to him when needed. They must behave more as they did during George Bush’s second term, and not as they did during his first. The ACLU is already preparing to challenge Donald Trump if he goes through with his promises which would restrict civil liberties.

There are Americans who want better than what both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have offered. It is looking like a majority might have voted for Clinton over Trump, with most voters not liking either choice. While more voted for third parties than in the past, the number was still small. Unfortunately most people only saw the choice as Trump or Clinton, so many voted for the only change candidate they saw–but did not necessarily agree with his positions. They voted for the wrong type of change, but still change. At least we end the election with a result few would have predicted–the defeat of both the Clinton and Bush families.

The Five Percent Solution To This Year’s Awful Presidential Candidates

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This year we have had two dreadful candidates from the major political parties, giving us a choice of a corrupt warmonger and a racist buffoon. The major political parties failed to nominate acceptable candidates. Voting for Clinton is essentially a vote for war, while Trump has shown no coherent understanding of the issues and the results, of his election are quite unpredictable. Voting for one of them will only perpetuate the problem.

Hillary Clinton looks likely to win, leading in the polls, and showing an even stronger position in the electoral college. Clinton is only likely to win because the Republican alternative looks even worse to most voters. Despite leading in the polls, a majority of voters continue to have an unfavorable view of Clinton. There is no reason for the major political parties to offer better choices if they can win with the types of candidates they now offer.

Voting for a major party candidate this year means either returning to the horrors of the Bush years with Clinton, or the unacceptable choice of Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the neoconservative status quo. Fifteen years after the 9/11 attack we are in a state of never-ending war, with growth of the surveillance state and lack of respect for civil liberties and privacy. While Trump has entertained the idea of ending the drug war in the past, he has not raised this during the campaign. Clinton remains a hardliner on the drug war, and is probably too conservative on cultural issues to change. Bill Clinton moved the country to the right on many issues when president, and Hillary is probably more conservative than Bill.

The best solution is to vote third party. Historically third parties have been among the most effective ways to force the major parties to listen to outside views. In the twentieth century, Democrats often adopted progressive positions to avoid losing votes to third parties of the left.  Without that pressure, we are seeing the Democratic Party move steadily toward the right.

This year, only third party candidates such as Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party have shown any interest in issues such as reducing foreign interventionism, curtailing the surveillance state, or ending the drug war. Jill Stein also supports the progressive policies of Bernie Sanders, while Johnson has problems on numerous issues.

Voting third party is not about whether you can win. In most states it is clear only one candidate can win. Nobody would expect all voters to vote for Clinton in blue states and Trump in red. Democracy is about voting based about your principles, not based upon who is likely to win.

It is not even necessary to win the election for a vote to have meaning. For third parties, it is about reaching 5% this year so that they can get matching funds and help with future ballot access. Jill Stein has reached 4 percent in one recent poll, and could reach 5 percent if more Sanders supporters would turn out to vote for her. Gary Johnson has exceeded 5 percent in multiple polls, and has an even better chance of achieving 5 percent in the election. State laws differ, but better results this year can also provide ballot access in the next election. The third parties can more effectively raise issues if they both have more money and do not have to devote as much effort to simply getting on the ballot.

This isn’t about whether a third party candidate can win as there are huge benefits for a third party to reach 5 percent, which is possibly achievable even if victory is not this year. It isn’t even about whether you want Jill Stein or Gary Johnson specifically to be president. Neither will be, and the vote is really for their party platforms and to influence the direction of politics in the future.

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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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.

Americans Support Legal Abortion & Marijuana

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Recent polls have shown that voters want the government out of their personal business, including support for keeping abortion legal and for legalized marijuana. The Hill reports on a poll on abortion rights:

Political candidates, consultants and the media generally misunderstand the politics of abortion rights. They tend to believe either that most voters oppose abortion or that the anti-abortion base is larger than the abortion rights base. But neither is true.

A recent nationwide poll by Ann Selzer (declared “The Best Pollster in Politics” by FiveThirtyEight), commissioned by the Public Leadership Institute, proves that voters overwhelmingly support abortion rights both in general and when asked about specific reproductive rights policies. In addition, the poll shows that those who “strongly support” abortion rights substantially outnumber those who “strongly oppose” it.

Our poll found that by a margin of 69-to-27 percent, American voters approve of the constitutional right to abortion established by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. This result is similar to many polls over the years that have found Americans approving Roe by margins of 2-to-1 or greater.

Another poll from the Pew Research Center shows strong support for legalization of marijuana:

The share of Americans who favor legalizing the use of marijuana continues to increase. Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.

The shift in public opinion on the legalization of marijuana has occurred during a time when many U.S. states are relaxing their restrictions on the drug or legalizing it altogether. In June, Ohio became the 25th state (plus Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) to legalize marijuana in some form after Gov. John Kasich signed a medical marijuana program into law. This November, Americans in nine states will vote on measures to establish or expand legal marijuana use…

By more than two-to-one, Democrats favor legalizing marijuana over having it be illegal (66% vs. 30%). Most Republicans (55%) oppose marijuana legalization, while 41% favor it.

These polls show that, of the major and minor political candidates, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson side with the majority on supporting abortion rights, while Donald Trump is on the wrong side.

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are the only candidates who consistently side with the majority on ending marijuana prohibition. Donald Trump has spoken of legalization in the past, but is hardly consistent on this. Hillary Clinton is the most conservative candidate on drug policy, having been a hard-line supporter of the drug war. This puts her views to the right of both the nation and the majority of her own party. While Clinton has tried to soften her position at times during the campaign, one of the leaked Wikileaks emails showed that her private position remains one of hard-line opposition to ending prohibition.

Trump Goes Nuclear And Clinton Channels Pence In Second Presidential Debate

No, the above picture does not show Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton singing a duet of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart or I Got You Babe. The second presidential debate (transcript here) was a perfect display of how absurd this year’s election is. It was inevitable that Donald Trump would come out the loser once it became clear that it would center around the recently released videotape of Donald Trump talking about abusing women.There was no possible way Hillary Clinton could lose this one.

Trump was more forceful, beating expectations and perhaps preventing the total collapse of his support. As it stands, he does trail by double digits. While it is very doubtful it will be enough to change the race, many of Trump’s attacks on Clinton might help him get more Republicans out to vote, although attacks on Hillary Clinton based upon Bill’s sex life are likely to backfire.

Clinton benefited from so little being said about the other major leak of the past few days–the emails released by Wikileaks which provided further verification of everything opponents of Clinton on the left thought about her. Clinton evaded the single question on this, first bringing up Abe Lincoln, and then the Russians. By the time she got through with her word salad, the actual question was long forgotten.

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Clinton also channeled the strategy of Mike Pence of denying the facts during the debate. This was most blatant when she repeated her false claim that the emails which were deleted were all personal.

Once again there were many falsehoods, probably far more from Trump. There were far too many to discuss. Trump getting the facts wrong is not news, but Trump getting it right is. He has been dinged by the fact checkers multiple times for his accusation that Hillary Clinton was behind the Birther movement. Some fact checkers even missed the fact that he corrected his account last night, and now got it right:

TRUMP: Well, you owe the president an apology, because as you know very well, your campaign, Sidney Blumenthal — he’s another real winner that you have — and he’s the one that got this started, along with your campaign manager, and they were on television just two weeks ago, she was, saying exactly that. So you really owe him an apology. You’re the one that sent the pictures around your campaign, sent the pictures around with President Obama in a certain garb. That was long before I was ever involved, so you actually owe an apology.

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Clinton never explicitly claimed that Obama was not born in the United States or is a Muslim, but there were certainly rumors that her campaign was involved in spreading the smears which people in the Obama campaign believed were true. There is no question that the Clinton campaign did make a point of trying to suggest something foreign about Obama. As can be verified from The Guardian, the campaign did spread the above picture in 1988, which Trump referred to. The strategy memo from her campaign manager, Mark Penn, also made it clear in 2007 that it was part of their strategy to portray Obama as foreign. Besides what they would say about Obama, Clinton would routinely say in her speeches how she was “born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century.”

The rare times that issues were brought up, the points went to Clinton. Trump repeated the standard GOP talking points about repealing Obamacare, but had no meaningful replacement plan. Clinton was also right about Trump’s tax plan primarily benefiting the wealthy, and in supporting background checks and closing the gun show loopholes (even if she did run as a pro-gun churchgoer in 2008).

Donald Trump Too Dishonest To Take Down Crooked Hillary

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This year’s election probably has the two most dishonest and corrupt major party nominees in recent history. It now seems like it is becoming a regular event for Newsweek to expose more dishonesty on Trump’s part. This week’s issue reports on Trump violating the embargo against Cuba:

 A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

It is questionable if this will hurt Trump among his supporters, but it could have an impact in Florida. Those supporting both Trump and Clinton no longer seem to care about the dishonesty of their candidate. However, with Clinton moving back into a small lead over Trump after this week’s debate, this does make it harder for Trump to get away with regaining momentum with his planned attacks on Clinton for her corruption. Jonathan Chait writes:

Donald Trump’s campaign is signaling that its new, post-first-debate message will be an attack on Hillary Clinton’s finances, under the catchphrase “Follow the money.” This is probably Trump’s most fruitful avenue of attack. The Clinton Foundation has created appearances of a conflict of interest, and the Clintons’ policy of accepting speaking fees from any source as long as the check would clear the bank has tarnished her image, and months of bashing at the hands of Bernie Sanders left her branded in the mind of many young liberals as a handmaiden of Wall Street.

And yet the notion that a voter ought to support Trump over Clinton on grounds of financial ethics or transparency is insane. Trump is corrupt on a world-historic scale. Andrew Prokop’s summary merely skims the surface of a career that has left hardly any rule or norm of business conduct un-violated. It is not only Trump’s history of misconduct, or even his ongoing abuse of his foundation for personal gain, but his astonishing promise, if elected, to continue to abuse his power to enrich himself by having his children manage his branded business that he will enhance via public office.

Even if none of that were true, it remains the case that Trump has shattered modern precedent by refusing to disclose his tax returns. How on Earth can a candidate run on the slogan “Follow the money” while stonewalling any questions about his own money? The only possible context in which this makes sense is a myopic, context-free focus on Clinton’s ethical shortcomings, combined with the assumption that Trump’s dangerous lunacy amounts to some kind of independence from big moneyed interests.

This does downplay the magnitude of Clinton’s corruption, but the key point here is that Trump is far too dishonest himself to successfully run against Clinton based upon ethics. This is rather fortunate for Clinton, and is one of the reasons why she is able to remain ahead of Trump, but would probably be trailing any other Republican candidate.

In some ways Clinton’s corruption is worse than Trump’s. I would rank her abuse of a cabinet position to make money to be more of an issue than Trump’s dishonest business practices. A politician who enters into ethics agreements made due to concerns about corruption, and then violates them as Clinton did, should not be considered for any further government positions, especially president. The bottom line is that both Clinton and Trump are too dishonest and corrupt to be fit to be president.

For for first time ever I agree, to a certain degree, with The Detroit News on its assessment of presidential candidates. Their editorial says, “Donald Trump is unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. He can not be president.” On Clinton they write, “character matters. Her career-long struggles with honesty and ethics and calculating, self-serving approach to politics trouble us deeply.”

While it would be unrealistic to expect a newspaper as conservative as The Detroit News to endorse Jill Stein, I give them credit for endorsing a third party candidate such as Gary Johnson. Their defense of endorsing a minor party candidate can apply to either:

We anticipate our decision not to support either of the major party candidates will bring charges that we are throwing away our endorsement. Our contention is that an endorsement based on conscience is never wasted.

The Two Worst People In America Debate

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The two worst people in America debated last night. Donald Trump was not intellectually capable of challenging Hillary Clinton’s long history of bad decisions and poor judgement throughout her career. Clinton was better prepared, and it didn’t take much to out-debate a buffoon like Trump. It is a shame that Jill Stein and Gary Johnson weren’t allowed to participate and provide a more meaningful challenge to Clinton.

George W. Bush and Barack Obama both recovered from poor debate performances to win reelection. Sanders did better against Clinton as the debates went on. Maybe Trump will do better in future debates, but I’m not sure that he has the ability to improve. He did start out looking like he had a chance, trying to look calm and presidential in the first half-hour. Watching Donald Trump trying to remain calm was like watching Bruce Banner, wondering when he would turn into the Hulk. It didn’t take long for Trump to repeatedly interrupt Clinton and look foolish making faces while she was speaking.

The debate was primarily a contest based upon such superficial matters, with limited consideration of the issues. Without Stein or Johnson present, nobody was going to look at the issues which neither major party candidate has any interest in, such as ending the state of perpetual warfare started after 9/11, or curtailing the surveillance state.

The initial polls, such as from CNN, showed Clinton to be the winner, but I doubt that many supporters of either candidate will change their minds based upon the debate. The debate might help Clinton with some undecided voters, but McClatchy found Clinton to lose some support among swing state voters in their focus group.

NPR has the full transcript with fact checking.

I also noticed a reversal in the red/blue partisan color coding at this debate. Donald Trump wore a blue suit while Hillary Clinton wore a red pantsuit. Next debate, Donald Trump should be required to wear the red pantsuit.

A farce like this provided a lot of material for the late night comedians. Jimmy Fallon had this to say: There were actually 1,000 people in the audience tonight and they were instructed not to applaud or cheer during the debate. As people watching were like, “What about sobbing? Can we quietly sob?”

Jimmy Kimmel summed up the entire election campaign: This was expected to be the most-watched debate ever. The ratings were expected to rank up with the finale of “Cheers,” the finale of “M.A.S.H.” Makes sense, in a way this election feels like the series finale of America.

The difference in the debate was preparation, as Stephen Colbert explained: Hillary was so prepared, my new nickname for her is Preparation H.

Below is the video of Colbert’s coverage of the debate:

Seth Meyers took A Closer Look at the debate. Video below. He even fact-checked Clinton: Ahead of tonight’s debate, Hillary Clinton posted an article on Twitter pointing out that no living president has endorsed Donald Trump. Nice try, Hillary, but it just so happens that Vladimir Putin is living.

The Two Worst People In America Face Off Tonight

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The debate will be starting soon (at 9 PM for those of use in the eastern time zone). Clinton and Trump go into the debate with the polls near tied, and with enough voters still undecided for the race to be altered by the debate.

Both campaigns have tried to game the event. Team Clinton has probably done a better job in this regard, as even conservatives agree, even if they are unhappy about it. They have managed to have the news dominated by talk of Trump’s dishonesty, calling on the moderator to fact-check him. Of course it might be hard for Clinton to get away with such a line of attack when neither candidate is trusted, and for good reason.

It is easy to speculate on many ways in which either candidate could come out the winner. Clinton is clearly the more knowledgeable of the two–which has not kept her from being wrong on virtually every major decision of the career, often having to come back later and describe her past decisions as a mistake. Trump might be exposed for just making things up as he goes along and having little grasp of the details of policy. However, this article on the Bush/Gore debate in 2000 from The New York Times shows that the more ignorant candidate can still win.

While I will not predict who will win, I think it is safe to predict the response of the loser. Clinton will blame a loss on sexism, while Trump will claim the debate was rigged against him.

For those who want a different opinion during the debate, Green Party candidate Jill Stein will be giving her answers to the questions via Twitter. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson says he will also be using twitter and making himself available to the media. Of course the problem with the debate system is not only that it is limited to two candidates, but that the two party system limits the types of issues which are even considered, and gives the false impression that major parties provide far more of a choice than they actually do.

Update Post Debate: Donald Trump was not intellectually capable of challenging Hillary Clinton’s long history of bad decisions and poor judgement throughout her career. Clinton was better prepared, and it didn’t take much to out-debate a buffoon like Trump. It is a shame that Jill Stein and Gary Johnson weren’t allowed to participate and provide a more meaningful challenge to Clinton.

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