Democrats Need To Wake Up As To How Terrible A Candidate Clinton Is Before It Is Too Late

Clinton Toddler Answers

Hillary Clinton should have it made. Democratic Party rules designed to prevent a fair fight for the nomination, along with active help from the party establishment, have put her in a strong position to win her party’s nomination. If nominated, she gets to run against a candidate as weak as Donald Trump. However, recent polls show that her support has eroded. She is essentially tied with Trump in the polls, and would probably be losing if up against any other candidate. As The New York Times reports, Hillary Clinton Struggles to Find Footing in Unusual Race.

One problem is that her attempts to campaign against Trump are not working. Her nickname, Dangerous Donald, has not helped her campaign, while Trump’s nickname for Clinton, Crooked Hillary, has been reinforced by the news. As Chris Cillizza put it, Clinton just had the worst week in Washington. The State Department Inspector General report came out and was terrible for Clinton. The report not only confirmed the accusations against Clinton and debunked her defenses, it also showed that Clinton actively acted to hide her violations of the law. Dan Metcalfe, former Director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy, wrote that Clinton likely committed the “biggest violation of Federal Records Act in History.”

As The New York Times pointed out, Emails Add to Hillary Clinton’s Central Problem: Voters Just Don’t Trust Her.

Mrs. Clinton has gone from having a 69 percent approval rating and being one of the most popular public figures in the country when she left the State Department in 2013 to having one of the highest disapproval ratings of any likely presidential nominee of a major party.

Roughly 53 percent of voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton in a new ABC-News Washington Post poll. Some 60 percent of voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Trump.

When asked if Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are “honest and trustworthy,” 64 percent of registered voters replied “no,” according to a recent New York Times-CBS News poll. Ask voters why they don’t trust Mrs. Clinton, and again and again they will answer with a single word: Emails.

The Inspector General report proves that Hillary Clinton has spent the last year lying to the American people about this scandal. How did she respond? She continued to lie.

1. “Um, just like previous secretaries of state I used a personal email. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented.”

Er … yes, previous secretaries of state have used personal email addresses while in office — Colin Powell most notably and extensively. But, and this is really important, Clinton is the first secretary of state to ever use a private email address exclusively to conduct her business. Period. That was and is unprecedented.

2. “I have turned over all my emails. … I have been incredibly open about doing that.”

Let’s take the second sentence there first.

The inspector’s report notes Clinton (a) shouldn’t have exclusively used a private server for her email correspondence and (b) given that she did, should have turned over all of her correspondence to the State Department immediately after she left office in February 2013. Clinton eventually turned over a portion of her emails — more on that below — but didn’t do so until December 2014 and “only after the State Department requested them as it prepared responses for the Republican-led House committee investigation into the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya,” according to a piece by WaPo’s Roz Helderman and Tom Hamburger.

As for Clinton’s assertion that she has turned over “all” of her emails, remember that Clinton deleted more than 31,000 emails that she deemed personal before ever turning anything over to the State Department. There was no third party brought in to make judgments on what was entirely private and what might be closer to the professional line. We have to, quite literally, take Clinton’s word for it.

3. “I will continue to be open.”

Clinton refused to sit down with the inspector general at the State Department, which is not exactly a testament to her commitment to openness. According to news reports, she has not yet been interviewed by the FBI, but there is an assumption that talk is coming.

4. “It’s not an issue that is going to affect either the campaign or my presidency.”

This is a subjective assertion and, therefore, sort of impossible to fully prove or disprove. But, there is plenty of polling evidence that suggests that voters aren’t convinced that Clinton is being entirely truthful in relation to her email server.

When asked last September whether Clinton has “honestly disclosed the facts about her use of personal e-mail while secretary of state or has tried to cover up the facts,” 54 percent of respondents in a Washington Post-ABC News poll chose the latter option. Just one in three (34 percent) said they believed she had honestly disclosed the facts.

And, it’s not a far leap from voters doubting Clinton’s honesty about her email setup to broader doubts about her veracity. Large majorities of Americans regularly tell pollsters that they don’t view Clinton as either honest or trustworthy — a massive hurdle that Clinton will have to clear between now and November.

To expand on the second point, we also know that Clinton was lying about the deleted email all being personal as business related email has already been to have been deleted.

As bad as this week was, The Hill predicts that things will get worse:

In the next few weeks — just as the likely Democratic presidential nominee hopes to pivot towards a general election — it will face its toughest scrutiny yet.

“All of that feeds into this overarching problem of public distrust of her,” said Grant Reeher, a political science professor at Syracuse University.

“To put it in slang terms, she’s got a pretty deeply held street rep at this point. This fits the street rep,” he added.

The State Department’s watchdog report was especially damaging, given the official nature of its source. The report claimed that Clinton never sought approval for her “homebrew” email setup, that her use of the system violated the department’s record-keeping rules and that it would have been rejected had she brought it up to department officials…

Clinton and many of her top aides declined to take part in the inspector general’s probe. But they won’t have that option going forward.On Friday, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills was interviewed behind closed doors as part of a court case launched by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch. In coming weeks, longtime aide Huma Abedin, former IT specialist Bryan Pagliano and other officials are scheduled to answer questions under oath for sessions that could last as long as seven hours.

A federal judge this week preemptively blocked Judicial Watch from releasing videotapes of the upcoming depositions.

But the group this week released the transcript from its first interview, with longtime State Department veteran Lewis Lukens. And it plans to do the same thing following each of the upcoming depositions, providing fodder for weeks to come from some of the closest rings of Clinton’s inner circle.

The court has said that Clinton herself may be forced to answer questions under oath, which would dramatically escalate the brouhaha surrounding the case…

What is potentially profoundly more damaging for Clinton is the looming FBI investigation, exploring the possibility that she or her aides mishandled classified information.More than 2,000 emails that Clinton gave the State Department from her private server have been classified at some level, and 22 were marked as “top secret” — the highest level of classification — and deemed too dangerous to release publicly even in a highly redacted form. However, none of the emails were marked as classified at the time they were sent, complicating the investigation into whether her setup thwarted any laws.

Abedin, Mills and other Clinton aides have reportedly been interviewed as part of the FBI case. And Clinton herself is due up for questioning at some point.

Legal experts appear skeptical that the Justice Department would hand down a criminal charge against Clinton, due to both the high legal hurdles involved and the intense political scrutiny surrounding the likely presidential nominee.

But that won’t end the matter.

Republicans appear primed to cry foul if the FBI closes its investigation without handing down indictments or offering a public explanation. Senior lawmakers have already excoriated the Justice Department for failing to appoint a special prosecutor.

While there is a good chance Clinton will escape prosecution, people lower than her have been prosecuted for less. A debate over selective prosecution could damage not only Clinton but the reputation of the Obama administration.

Clinton’s dishonesty and scandals will dominate the presidential election. While there are also plenty of bogus scandals raised by Republicans, the current scandals are true and are Clinton’s fault. They demonstrate her dishonesty, her poor record on government transparency, and her poor judgment. Blaming all the attacks on the vast right wing conspiracy will not protect her. The Democratic Party can still avoid this, and a high risk of defeat to Donald Trump, by nominating Bernie Sanders instead.

Senate Bill Allows FBI To Obtain Email Without Warrant

bill of rights

First we found, thanks to Edward Snowden, that the NSA was collecting mass amounts of metadata on email. Some discounted this, downplaying the significance of metadata. Hillary Clinton has called for more government surveillance to fight terror. It looks like her wish will come true. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill which would allow the FBI to obtain email without a warrant. CNET reports:

The 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act, if enacted into law, would let the FBI obtain email records without a court order. All the agency would need is a National Security Letter, which lets the FBI get information from companies about their customers without alerting the person being investigated. Currently, the FBI can access phone records that way, but not emails…

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Tuesday in a joint statement that the 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act makes it easier for the government to keep Americans safe.

It is not surprising that conservative Democrat Dianne Feinstein would approve of this, but certainly there must be other Democrats who would protest this if there really is still a difference between the parties. One, and only one, Democrat objected. Ron Wyden released this statement:

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today voted against the 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The bill includes provisions to expand warrantless government surveillance and takes aim at a valuable independent oversight board.

“This bill takes a hatchet to important protections for Americans’ liberty,” Wyden said following the vote. “This bill would mean more government surveillance of Americans, less due process and less independent oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies. Worse, neither the intelligence agencies, nor the bill’s sponsors have shown any evidence that these changes would do anything to make Americans more secure. I plan to work with colleagues in both chambers to reverse these dangerous provisions.”

Wyden opposes multiple provisions to the bill, including;

-Allowing the FBI to obtain Americans’ email records with only a National Security Letter. Currently, the FBI can obtain email records in national security investigations with an order from the FISA Court. The bill would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers. The FBI can currently obtain phone records with a National Security Letter, but not email records.

-Narrowing the jurisdiction of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), for the second consecutive year. The bill would limit the PCLOB to examining only programs that impact the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.  Wyden has supported the PCLOB’s focus on the rights of US persons.  Wyden opposed this provision, however, since global telecommunications networks can make it difficult to determine who is an American citizen, and this provision could discourage oversight of programs when the impact on Americans’ rights is unclear. Furthermore, continually restricting a small, independent oversight board sends the message that the board shouldn’t do its job too well.

The bill does include one proposal from Wyden, which would allow the PCLOB to hire staff even when the board’s Chair is vacant. Currently the PCLOB is prohibited from hiring staff unless a Senate-confirmed Chair is in place.  This proposal is also included in separate bipartisan legislation introduced by Wyden and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.  PCLOB Chairman David Medine is scheduled to step down on July 1.

The Intercept has further background information on the bill.

Of the current presidential candidates, only Bernie Sanders has stood up for civil liberties. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have similar views supporting restrictions on civil liberties to fight terrorism. I am not aware of any statements from the candidates specifically on this bill, but actions such as this from Congress demonstrate the need for Sanders, as opposed to Clinton or Trump, to have the veto pen in the White House.

State Department Report Shows Clinton Violated Policy, Further Weakening Her Candidacy

Clinton Email Cartoon Deleted

An audit from the State Department Inspector found that Hillary Clinton did not comply with email policies. AP and CBS report:

A State Department audit has faulted Hillary Clinton and previous secretaries of state for poorly managing email and other computer information and slowly responding to new cybersecurity risks.

The Associated Press, which obtained the report, says that the audit cites “longstanding, systemic weaknesses” related to communications. These started before Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state, but her failures were singled out as more serious.

CBS News has also obtained a copy of the report, which singles out Clinton among her predecessors.

“At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act,” the report reads.

It goes on to say that Clinton produced 55,000 pages of emails to mitigate her failure to preserve the emails, but the inspector general “notes that Secretary Clinton’s production [of 55,000 pages of emails] was incomplete.” The report also says that the 55,000 pages included no emails from the first few months of her tenure as secretary for either received or sent messages.

The report also indicates that Clinton and her close advisers failed to cooperate with the investigation, and also suggests attempts at covering up their actions. This includes “how some technology staff said they were instructed to not talk of Clinton’s email set-up after they raised concerns about the unusual arrangement.” The report raised security concerns, along with the failure to report the incidents:

It states that a non-State adviser to Bill Clinton, who was the original user of the server later taken over by Hillary Clinton, shut down the server in early 2011 because of hacking concerns.

“On January 9, 2011, the non-Departmental advisor to President Clinton who provided technical support to the Clinton email system notified the Secretary’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations that he had to shut down the server because he believed ‘someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in i didnt [sic] want to let them have the chance to,’” the report says. “Later that day, the advisor again wrote to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, ‘We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min.’”

The report goes on to detail another incident in May and says that Clinton and her staff did not appropriate report the matters.

“Notification is required when a user suspects compromise of, among other things, a personally owned device containing personally identifiable information,” it says. “However, OIG found no evidence that the Secretary or her staff reported these incidents to computer security personnel or anyone else within the Department.”

Since the scandal broke, Clinton has claimed she was allowed to do use her email system. Factcheckers have repeatedly demonstrated that this was untrue. Clinton supporters have been falsely claiming that the State Department cleared her for months based upon twisting statements from spokesmen which in no way cleared her. This should put an end to that claim.

Clinton apologists are already trying to spin this as favorable to Clinton, including that it is helpful that this report came out now as opposed to in the fall. However, there is no doubt that Donald Trump will be raising this and multiple other scandals throughout the campaign. There are also other investigations and court cases in progress which can provide further unfavorable news, making it risky for Democrats to go into a general election campaign with Clinton the nominee

Clinton apologists are also stressing that the report also criticized the actions of Colin Powell. This is a poor defense. New rules were put into place following this and other abuses under George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton was well aware of this, and even accused the Bush administration of shredding the Constitution over their use of private email and other matters in 2007. Stricter rules were initiated by the Obama administration in 2009 in response, and it is inexcusable that Clinton ignored them. It is hardly a defense of Clinton that someone else violated the rules, especially when a major criticism of Clinton from the left is that both her behavior and her policies are far too close to what we rejected under Bush.

This scandal demonstrates Clinton’s hostility towards government transparency, her view that she is above the rules, her dishonesty, and her poor judgment. All of these attributes will make her a weak general election candidate if nominated, and a poor president if elected. Clinton is already struggling in the polls against Trump, while Sanders maintains a strong lead. With the deterioration in Clinton’s support, which is likely to continue, the superdelegates should remedy the situation by throwing their support to Bernie Sanders.

Awful Choice Of Clinton v. Trump Leaves Opening For Minor Party Candidates

ClintonEqualsTrump

This year the “presumptive” nominee from each of the major political parties is so awful that it hardly makes sense to throw away one’s vote on them if the general election is between Clinton and Trump. While each has advantages and disadvantages over the other, either way we will see the continuation of the warfare/surveillance state regardless of which is elected. The unpopularity of both candidates in recent polls does bolster Sanders’ argument for the superdelegates to support him at the convention, but looking at it more realistically, the Democratic leadership probably would rather lose the general election with Clinton (and have hope of keeping their positions) than to see Sanders win and remake the Democratic Party.

David Brooks’ column asking Why Is Clinton Disliked? is receiving attention today, but it gets the answer wrong. Is is not because of voters missing the touchy feely information he misses. Clinton’s popularity dropped when she became a candidate and voters were reminded of her views and record. Just seeing Clinton on the campaign trail was enough to remind many people of why they did not vote for her in 2008. Her popularity really plunged in the polls as the scandals broke, reminding voters of how dishonest she is.

People might not understand all the specifics of the scandals, but were reminded that with Clinton there is always a scandal just around the corner. Some are totally bogus, such as Benghazi and Vince Foster. Others do show shady behavior on her part, such as failing to reveal the donors to the Foundation while Secretary of State as she agreed to, and then unethically making decisions regarding parties both donating to the Foundation and making unprecedented payments to Bill for speaking.

We don’t know how others will turn out, such as the current FBI investigation into her mishandling of classified information. Today’s potential scandal involves the investigation of Terry McAuliffe for campaign contributions. CNN reports on a potential tie to the Clintons: “As part of the probe, the officials said, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton.” Whether or not this turns out to be anything significant, we know the next scandal will be here soon, and a fair percentage will turn out to be true.

Of course Donald Trump comes across as being even more dishonest than Clinton. In many cases I’m not sure if he is intentionally lying about world affairs, or just repeating what he read in some right wing email, showing the same lack of knowledge as is commonly seen on the far right. I’ve pointed out in the past his propensity for spreading nutty conspiracy theories, and First Read looked at this problem today:

Donald Trump, conspiracy-theorist-in-chief?

Last night, the Washington Post wrote how Donald Trump described the 1993 suicide of White House aide Vince Foster as “very fishy.” From the Post: “When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail. He called theories of possible foul play ‘very serious’ and the circumstances of Foster’s death ‘very fishy.'” This isn’t the first time that Trump has dabbled in conspiracy theories. There’s the 2011 “birther” crusade against President Obama; there’s the allegation that Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald; and there’s Trump flirting with the idea that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia might have been murdered. As MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin wrote earlier this month, “[Trump], whether by choice or by nature, appears fundamentally unable to distinguish between credible sources and chain e-mails. Equally significant, though, is that he uses these falsehoods to elevate fringe conspiracy theories and anecdotes that politicians are normally careful to keep far away from mainstream politics. He’s spread discredited claims linking vaccines to autism, for example — a debunked theory that medical officials say has harmed efforts to wipe out preventable diseases.”

While the two major party candidates will probably obtain the majority of the vote if it is a race between Clinton and Trump, this could be a better than usual year for minor party candidates. FiveThirtyEight points out that Libertarian Gary Johnson is now polling at around ten percent and predict he “might be on the verge of becoming a household name.”

Jill Stein provides another alternative from the Green Party. She made a strong appeal to Sanders voters in an interview with Truthout:

…I think the Green Party and my campaign [are] “Plan B” for Bernie supporters because the Democratic Party is the opposite of everything they’ve been working for and building for the last eight months or so, and to simply be dumped into Hillary’s campaign right now is kind of unthinkable.

The sabotage of Bernie’s campaign by the Democratic Party really makes the point about why we need an independent party, because it has shown that it is very hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary party…

So this is what the party does, and it has only become more corporatist, militarist and imperialist even while it has allowed very inspiring, progressive campaigns like Bernie’s to be seen and heard for awhile. After George McGovern was nominated in 1972, the party changed the rules of the game over the course of the next decade so that that kind of a grassroots campaign could never happen again. So Bernie had to fight on a very steep playing field and it’s just that the machine is powerful. Over the decades, as the Democratic Party continues to fake left, it continues to move right. I think that is the take-home lesson here — that we are not creating a more progressive, more grassroots party; it is only becoming more of a corporate instrument.

Either Stein or Johnson would be preferable to Clinton or Trump.

It Is Support For Hillary Clinton, Not Bernie Sanders, Which Is Hazardous To The Democratic Party

Fox Poll May

Eight years ago Hillary Clinton remained in the race until after the last primary. Now she would clearly like to see Sanders leave the race. Even if Clinton supporters agree that Sanders can remain in the race, they think that it is wrong for Sanders to criticize both Clinton’s views and the manner in which the primary battle has been rigged to favor Clinton.

The media covers this from Clinton’s perspective–at least the corporate mainstream media, and some bloggers who identify more with the Democratic Party than promoting liberal principles. There are exceptions. Trevor Timm tried to set the record straight at The Guardian.

The idea that Sanders, and to a certain extent others on the left, should stop criticizing Clinton because it gives Trump a better chance to win is ridiculous. Do people think that Clinton should get a free pass for the next six months – and potentially incentive to move to the right – on issues like Wall Street, trade, war, foreign policy and others? Just because Trump would be a disaster does not mean Clinton should be immune from criticism, nor does it mean holding her accountable will prevent her from ultimately defeating Trump.

Around this time in 2008, Clinton was still heavily criticizing the inevitable nominee Barack Obama and making divisive statements that make this primary campaign look like a walk in the park. How quickly everyone forgets (or pretends not to remember.) In fact, some of the issues Clinton once criticized Obama for are now the same issues that Sanders hits Clinton on. Clinton supporters had no problem with it then, but are now feigning being offended now.

It’s quite possible to both continue pushing Clinton on important issues and condemn Trump. The American people are smarter than the Clinton crowd is giving them credit for…

I can’t believe Sanders isn’t enthused about the Democratic party! Let’s see: the DNC chair is a vocal Clinton supporter who tried to hide Democratic debates on the worst nights possible for exposure, the committee cut Sanders off from its important voter database, various state party representatives have unfairly given Clinton an advantage in delegate selection processes, the party has a sweetheart fundraising deal with Clinton and they recently changed their rules to accept more money from corporate lobbyists – a practice that Sanders deplores.

Why should running in the Democratic primary stop Sanders from criticizing the party leadership and apparatus? Some prominent Democrats have even insinuated that he never should have ran as a Democrat if he doesn’t like the way the party is run.

Robert McChesney summed up the problem with media coverage (emphasis mine):

Well, it’s been deplorable, even by the standards—and we’ve talked about this in past years. Grading with a curve allowing for bad coverage as a rule, this has been, I think, an all-time low by mainstream corporate media. And NPR, I’d toss right in there.

You know, you have in the Sanders campaign—whatever one might think of Sanders, as a journalist, you’re looking at one of the most extraordinary political stories in decades that’s come along. You have someone who’s galvanized young support on really an entirely different vision of our society like no other candidate, again, in decades. As journalists, you’d think this would be heaven on Earth, this is the greatest story you could possibly ever cover; you’d look to the sky and say, “Thank you for putting me here in 2016.” Yet what we’ve seen is the Sanders campaign has been largely neglected—all the data shows this—barely covered. And the coverage and the framing of it has been largely through the eyes of the establishment for the Hillary Clinton campaign: This guy is a nuisance, he’s a pain in the butt; he’s getting in the way, in front of the real candidate, the presumptive nominee—presumptive going back to the very beginning. And when you see Sanders or one of his surrogates on the air, generally the tenor of the questioning is “What would Hillary’s people want to ask him?” You know, it’s never like “Let’s take these people on their own terms.” So you put it all together, it’s been pretty distressing and the source, I think, of frustration for a lot of people, that they’ve not really had a fair hearing and a fair exposure to people who rely upon cable news networks and the mainstream media to learn about politics.

Sanders has the right to both express his views and expose the corruption of the party leadership. He has actually gone rather light on Clinton in not using the scandals which surround her in the campaign. In contrast, it has been Clinton who has waged a dishonest Rovian-style campaign against Sanders.

It is not even a case of weakening the candidate who can beat Donald Trump, as that would be Bernie Sanders. Multiple polls, including both national and battleground state polls, have shown that Trump has tied up the race with Clinton while Sanders maintains a significant lead. Two new polls out show the same trend. Fox shows Trump leading Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent, while Sanders leads Trump 46 percent to 42 percent. Rasmussen shows Trump leading Clinton 42 percent to 37 percent.

These latest polls, which are even more favorable to Trump than those earlier in the week, could be showing a trend, or could be demonstrating  a house effect for Republicans. Regardless, numerous polls show that Democrats should be backing Bernie Sanders if they want to have the best chance of beating Donald Trump. Plus Democrats should be supporting the candidate who holds liberal principles as opposed to a candidate as conservative as Clinton.

Terrible Choices From Major Parties Leading To High Degree Of Interest In Third Party Candidates In 2016

Independent Candidate

The Democratic establishment, and their supporters, mistakingly blame the protest against Hillary Clinton on Bernie Sanders. There is no question that a tremendous number of Democrats and independents prefer Sanders over Clinton, but this is far more than a battle between personalities. It is over principles. Martin Longman tried to set Democrats straight in writing, It’s Not All About Bernie:

Perhaps it is unfortunate, in a way, that Bernie Sanders has a substantial amount of personal charisma and has won the allegiance of quite a number of people based on them liking him personally rather than for what he has to say about U.S. foreign policy and economic justice. The reason I say this isn’t because I think this number is that large, but more because it has contributed to a sense that there is a Cult of Bernie with ardent and sometimes misbehaving acolytes. Some people call them Bernie Bros., but that insulting catch-all doesn’t capture what’s driving so many Democrats into the arms of an (until recently) independent Socialist who is still a harsh critic of the Democratic Party and its leadership.

From a personal perspective, I’ve been traveling in progressive circles for more than a decade now, and I’ve been part of the liberal blogosphere almost since its inception. By far, most of the people I’ve become acquainted with, many of whom are among the most committed and experienced Democratic organizers and partisans you will find, have been Bernie Sanders supporters from the beginning of this campaign. By and large, they aren’t part of any cult and they haven’t been drinking any Kool-Aid.

The liberal blogosphere snapped into existence at a time when it seemed that the Democratic Party had lost its way. They had lost the election in 2000 (made it close enough to steal, if you will), had failed to stop Bush’s devastating tax cuts, and were showing no backbone against Bush’s post-9/11 national security insanity. In the 2002 midterms, the Democrats performed much worse than expected.

Meanwhile, the media was not questioning the assumptions behind or the factual basis for the march to war in Iraq, and they were painting concerned citizens as unpatriotic.

In the beginning, the progressive backlash against this didn’t much include any retrospective condemnation of the Clinton administration, except to the limited degree that some blamed it for letting things get so out of whack. It wasn’t until we had the 2008 primary that progressives began having an internal argument about the legacy of the Democratic Leadership Council and the triangulating ways of Bill Clinton. This was fueled further when the economy collapsed in September of that year, which eventually led to the Occupy Movement and a further split on the progressive left…

So, what the Sanders campaign really is when you get past the idiosyncrasies of Bernie Sanders, is an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire to change the party to meet the needs of the country on a more urgent basis. And the practical way that can be done is by having their voices heard at the convention. To the degree that this ambition is shunted, the progressive conscience of the party is marginalized and frustrated.

The focus shouldn’t be so much on personalities or the worst behavior of the loudest and most annoying people. It should be on the big picture. Young people, in particular, are vastly more attracted to the Sanders message than what is being offered by Clinton. These are potentially Democratic Party members for life, but that isn’t going to happen automatically, and especially not if they feel that their beliefs are unacceptable and have been defeated.

Many of us are seeing our principles betrayed by having the party establishment back Hillary Clinton. Those of us who backed the Democrats in protest against George W. Bush’s foreign policy and neoconservativism are not going to automatically vote Democratic if this year it is the Democrats who are running the neocon as their candidate. Similarly, those of us who protested the violations of civil liberties, hostility towards government transparency, the role of money in government, and the support for an increased role of religion in public policy under Bush are not pleased to see a Democratic candidate who shares these faults. Plus Clinton is to the right of Trump on issues ranging from trade to drug policy. The election of Hillary Clinton looks like a third term for the policies of George W. Bush with the ethics of Richard Nixon.

Clinton certainly has the edge in the election, but it is now looking very close. If Democrats want the support of those who backed them in opposition to Republican policies, and if they want to win, they need to offer a candidate who respects our values–not one who quotes arguments from The Wall Street Journal to attack Medicare for All and other progressive programs. If the Democratic Party doesn’t offer an acceptable candidate, many voters will look elsewhere.

Third party candidates have the potential to disrupt the Democratic/Republican monopoly more than usual this year. A Data Targeting poll from today shows that “55% of respondents favor having an independent presidential ticket in 2016.” This includes “91% of voters under the age of 29.” In addition, “65% of respondents are at least somewhat, pretty or very willing to support a candidate for President who is not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.” Both Trump and Clinton have historically high negatives. While I am skeptical that this will actually occur, here is their most dramatic finding:

In a ballot test against Clinton and Trump, a truly independent candidate starts off with 21% of the vote.

This number increases to 29% in the “Big Sky” region, 30% in “New England” and 28% in the “West” region.
Among voters with an unfavorable opinion of both Trump and Clinton, the independent actually wins the ballot test

TRUMP: 11%
CLINTON: 7%
INDEPENDENT: 56%

Democrats can greatly reduce the risk of seeing Donald Trump being elected by nominating a candidate who stands up for Democratic principles like Bernie Sanders. Otherwise they risk losing a generation of potential voters, and possibly the beginning of the end of our current two party system if it fails to provide a true choice.

New Hampshire Poll Shows Sanders Outperforming Clinton In General Election By 14 Points

live-free-or-die

Polls for many months have consistently demonstrated that Hillary Clinton would make a very weak general election candidate compared to Bernie Sanders due to opposition to her among independents and in the battleground states. We have seen this again in recent national polls, as well as in battleground state polls, including Georgia. The same pattern is now present in a poll from New Hampshire:

If the presidential election were held today between the apparent Republican nominee, Donald Trump, and the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, the outcome would be very close. That’s according to a new WBUR poll (topline, crosstabs) of likely New Hampshire voters.

According to the survey, Clinton leads Trump 44 percent to 42 percent among likely Granite State voters, with about 7 percent still undecided.

The new WBUR poll is consistent with several recent surveys from around the country that suggest the general election race would be competitive.

The reason this race is so close is that both Clinton and Trump are exceptionally unpopular across New Hampshire…

By contrast, Democrat Bernie Sanders’ numbers are just the opposite: 55 percent view him favorably, while 34 percent view him unfavorably.

And according to the poll, if Sanders were the Democratic nominee, he’d beat Trump today decisively in New Hampshire — by 16 points, 54-38.

A two point lead for Clinton versus Trump compared to a sixteen point lead for Sanders.

New Hampshire is of particular interest as a battleground state due to its role in the 2000 election. The situation in Florida is most memorable considering that Al Gore rather than George Bush would have won the presidency if there was a state-wide recount there. As in Florida, Gore would have won in New Hampshire if those voting for Ralph Nader had voted for him, and winning either state would have made him president. Democrats could have won if they were able to  hold on to the votes from left-leaning independents in either state, and Hillary Clinton is probably at far greater risk than Gore was of independents and liberals being unable to vote for her on principle.

While I have qualms about the entire superdelegate system, the system was designed to prevent the nomination of an unelectable candidate. With Trump also being extremely unpopular, it is possible that she could still win, but nominating Sanders eliminates the risk we see with Clinton. If the superdelegates switch to support Sanders (admittedly a long shot), it would not be a case of them overruling the vote in a democratic process. Clinton’s lead is largely due to a system rigged to support her. Clinton is also unprecedented as a candidate in the scandal surrounding her and in her many of her views being more aligned with those of the Republicans than Democrats.  Superdelegates could remedy this by having the convention nominating the candidate who would not only be the stronger general election candidate, but who would make the best president.

Another Poll Confirms Trend Of Clinton Struggling Against Trump While Sanders Beats Him

NBC Survey Monkey

When the first poll showed Donald Trump pulling just behind Hillary Clinton there was a question as to whether it might be an outlier. Battleground state polls similarly showed a close race, with Sanders outperforming Clinton in Georgia along with the expected battleground states. Now another poll shows the same trend. The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll shows Clinton’s lead falling from 5 percent last week to 3 percent this week. This includes independents supporting Trump over Clinton 44 percent to 36 percent.

While the media concentrates on Clinton and Trump, the internals of the poll show the same trend as in all the others. While Clinton is in a dead heat against Trump, Sanders leads Trump 53 to 41 percent. Sanders’ twelve point margin is down only one point from the previous week. Other numbers of interest include 59 percent having an unfavorable view of Clinton, compared to 46 percent for Sanders. Sixty-two percent have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump.

At this time I doubt that many superdelegates will change their votes based upon these numbers, but what happens in July if Trump should have a significant lead over Clinton while Sanders still beats Trump? Will they stick with Clinton, pay attention to the incredible support seen for Sanders, or will they turn to Joe Biden?

Of course, while the downward trajectory for Clinton should concern Democrats, there is a long way until November and these numbers should change. Part of this will depend upon the campaigns run by each candidate. I looked at the strategy for each campaign yesterday, although I would expect that both campaigns have plans which they are not discussing with the media. External events might also play a part. With Hillary Clinton clinging so close to Barack Obama as part of her strategy in the Democratic primaries, she will probably also be held accountable should there be any bad news on the economy, terrorism, or international affairs over the next several months.

Will Donald Trump’s Tactics Work Against Hillary Clinton?

Trumps and Clintons

Hillary Clinton currently is tied with Donald Trump in some polls and leads in others. The Democrats should have an advantage in the electoral college, although this is no longer clear with Clinton doing poorly in battleground states and independent voters. If the general election is between Clinton and Trump, the contest might come down to which of the two is disliked less, and whether Trump’s attacks on Clinton are as effective as they were against his Republican opponents.

The New York Times has a report on how Trump is expected to attack Clinton:

Donald J. Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton’s infidelities in Hillary Clinton’s face on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved.

Mr. Trump will try to hold her accountable for security lapses at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and for the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens there.

And he intends to portray Mrs. Clinton as fundamentally corrupt, invoking everything from her cattle futures trades in the late 1970s to the federal investigation into her email practices as secretary of state.

Drawing on psychological warfare tactics that Mr. Trump used to defeat “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, “Little Marco” Rubio and “Low-Energy” Jeb Bush in the Republican primaries, the Trump campaign is mapping out character attacks on the Clintons to try to increase their negative poll ratings and bait them into making political mistakes, according to interviews with Mr. Trump and his advisers.

On the surface, I have my doubts as to whether this will really work but, on the other hand, who would have thought that Trump could have eliminated Jeb Bush from competition by calling him “low-energy?” Still, much of this looks like the typical overreach which has worked to the advantage of the Clintons in the past. Rather than attack the Clintons with factual criticism, Republicans tend to mix in a tremendous amount of fiction with their attacks, leading many to discount the large amount of legitimate criticism.

I really have my doubt that there is any benefit in bringing up ancient history. People already have their opinions about Bill’s affairs and the impeachment–with his popularity increasing tremendously in response to Republican over-reach with impeachment. Clinton has received criticism even from some feminists for the manner in which she treated women who have made accusations against Bill, but Trump is hardly going to benefit from feminist criticism of Clinton considering his record.

Trump could benefit from criticism based upon the fortune Bill and Hillary made from their political positions. The question here is whether voters will see the person who pays out money for political influence as being any better than those who receive money by influence peddling. Personally I see them as just two sides of the same bad coin, but Trump might be able to turn this to his advantage if he can be seen as someone exposing a dirty system.

There is plenty to work with regarding the email scandal. While mishandling of classified information is receiving the most talk these days, Trump might be better off concentrating on other aspects of the scandal. It is best to wait and see what happens with the FBI investigation. If there is any type of adverse report coming out of this, that will be more significant than anything Trump says. If nothing comes out of this, there is no point in making it an issue. I suspect that there will be no prosecution based upon Clinton’s position, even if others at lower levels have been prosecuted for less.

Trump should stick with criticism based upon violating government regulations regarding government transparency, influence peddling, and simply acting foolishly. Of course Trump has hardly been acting like an open-government advocate himself.

The email scandal could help Trump make the argument that Clinton is dishonest. Factcheckers have repeatedly demonstrated that Clinton has been lying on the facts, with Factcheck.org and Jake Tapper at CNN recently showing yet again that Clinton is lying when she claims that what she did was allowed (video above). Of course Trump will have the problem that the factcheckers consider him to be even more dishonest than Clinton.

Benghazi has been repeatedly investigated and there is little there. The major accusations don’t hold up at all. While systemic errors might have increased the risk, the various right wing conspiracy theories regarding the attack have been debunked.  There is no reason to think that the outcome would have been different if someone else had been Secretary of State at the time. This whole scandal has now been reduced to discrepancies between what Clinton told her family and others regarding the cause of the attack. Whether this was an attempt at pre-election spin versus errors made during the fog of war, this is hardly enough to justify further talk of Benghazi. Similarly, many of the other lines of attack coming from right wing sources do not hold up.

Rather than using Benghazi, Trump would be much smarter to campaign against Clinton’s policy on regime change in Libya, as well as her support of military interventionism in Syria and Iraq, along with her overly belligerent attitude towards Iran and Russia. A vote for Clinton is very likely a vote for wars, and for reigniting the Cold War with Russia. Clinton’s hawkishness could cost her the election if Trump could manage to sound coherent on foreign policy, bit it is questionable if he can handle this.

While these major lines of attack from Trump all have problems, Clinton’s strategy looks absolutely out of touch with reality. Greg Sargent interviewed Clinton’s chief strategist, Joel Benenson. He suggested that a major strategy of the campaign will be to argue that Trump has “been in it for himself.” The counter-attacks from Trump regarding the conduct of the Clintons are obvious considering the fortunes they made by capitalizing on their political positions. I’d suggest that Clinton obtain a new strategist, as a campaign based upon the lines outlined by Berenson would greatly increase the chances of a Trump victory in November.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders could easily campaign on the line that Berenson recommends for Clinton. Plus he would not have Clinton’s problems with dishonesty, money in politics, and foreign policy. Nominating Bernie Sanders would be the best way for Democrats to defeat Donald Trump.

Sanders Does Better Than Both Trump And Clinton In Georgia–Can Extend Election Map For Democrats

georgia

Polls for several months have consistently demonstrated that Hillary Clinton would have difficulty in a general election, while Bernie Sanders would do much better. Head to head polling frequently showed Clinton losing to all candidates except Donald Trump, and now that Trump has probably clinched the GOP nomination, even that race has become a virtual tie. I have seen several Clinton supporters brag about polls showing that Clinton has a chance to flip Georgia. What they ignore is that this is not due to any great degree of support for Clinton. It is due to demographic changes in Georgia, and Bernie Sanders has an even better chance of carrying the state. From AJC polling (emphasis mine):

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are locked in a statistical tie in Georgia, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that laid bare the deep divide over the presidential race.

Trump’s 4-point lead over Clinton — he’s at 45 percent — is within the poll’s margin of error, meaning neither can confidently claim a state that’s voted for the GOP nominee since 1996. Sprinkled throughout are reminders of the challenges both face in capturing Georgia: dim voter enthusiasm, high unfavorability ratings and deep skepticism from voters.

Perhaps the most telling sign of all: Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders polled higher than both in one-on-one matchups, winning a potential contest with Trump 47 percent to 42 percent. Although Clinton seems poised to win her party’s nomination, the AJC poll is among a string of surveys bolstering Sanders’ case that he poses the bigger threat to Trump.

Sanders does better than Clinton both nationally and in the battleground states, along with showing a much better chance of expanding the playing field.It would place the Republican nominee at a disadvantage if Trump had to fight just to hold onto Georgia. In contrast, Clinton is vulnerable in several states which have voted Democratic in recent years.

As David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association, wrote at Salon, This is one weak nominee: Hillary Clinton’s problem isn’t Bernie Sanders. It’s Hillary Clinton.

No matter what you think about Hillary Clinton as the presidential primaries wind down, there is one undeniable fact that lingers in the background. Despite having had enormous advantages from the start of the campaign—no serious competition from within the party, solid support from national party leaders, a massive war chest and a nationwide grassroots network built over the course of decades in national politics—Clinton has struggled to put away a 74-year-old Jewish socialist who has had almost no establishment support.

Clinton lost to an inexperienced Barack Obama eight years ago, and is barely beating Sanders despite a system heavily rigged in her favor. She has been fortunate that Sanders has not used her major scandals against her, but we can be sure Trump will.

Seeing Sanders do better than Clinton in a general election match-up, despite her landslide victory in the Democratic primary, also shows how Democratic primary results are not representative of all potential Democratic voters. This might also indicate a decrease in support for Clinton and increase in support for Sanders since the date of the primary. While I would not normally like to see superdelegates decide the nominee, this is the time for them to intervene to correct the problems caused initially by the system giving such an advantage to Clinton. If the superdelegates system was initiated to protect against nominating an unelectable candidate, this very well could be such a situation. Plus we have not encountered a situation in which the leading candidate was as unethically unfit to be president as Hillary Clinton, along with currently being under FBI investigation (and not a security inquiry as Clinton falsely states).