Democratic Party Rules Should Clinton Leave The Race

David Shuster Tweets about Hillary Clinton following her collapse.

Hillary Clinton’s health scare yesterday has led to talk, probably premature, about what would happen if  a candidate was forced to leave the presidential race. It is quite likely that Clinton really does have pneumonia, and that she will soon recover. The manner in which the story was handled has led to continued speculation, such as by David Shuster on Twitter and  Cokie Roberts on Morning Edition, that the Democrats might be looking for a replacement candidate. Former DNC Chair Dan Fowler has also called for a contingency plan. While unlikely to happen, it is an intriguing question, and with the ages of both nominees it is not inconceivable that a candidate could be forced to leave the race. Politico did provide some information as to what would occur, with Fowler suggesting a more detailed process:

If Clinton could not physically continue her candidacy, she would have to voluntarily cede her nomination, creating a vacancy at the top of the national ticket. If she did, party procedures give the chair of the DNC authority to call a “special meeting” to vote on a replacement nominee. In this case, because chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in July, her successor, Brazile, has that authority.

“The locus of activity for all of those political questions would then move to the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee,” said Elaine Kamarck, a two-decade veteran of the DNC Rules Committee. “And it’s wide open, and all of the political concern would work out in the context of discussions among the members of the DNC.”

Fowler argued that the party would be wise to immediately set up an even more detailed process for those who might seek to be Clinton’s successor — from a signature-gathering requirement to a process for receiving nominations during the DNC meeting. All of which, he said, would help ensure confidence in the process and lead toward a broad coalescing around a successor candidate.

There is more on the topic here, here, here, and here. The key facts are that Clinton would have to agree to give up the nomination. The Democratic National Committee would then chose her replacement. The later it occurs, the more chaotic matters would be because of missing deadlines to change the candidate in various states. This may or may not matter in different states as it is possible that in many states Clinton’s name would still remain on the ballot, but electors would then vote for the new Democratic nominee in the electoral college.

The DNC could conceivably choose Bernie Sanders as the second place candidate after the primaries, but I have my doubts that the Democratic establishment would do that. After all, if not for the  Democratic establishment tilting the race towards Clinton in the first place, it is very likely that Sanders would have won the nomination. Joe Biden is the most likely replacement due to his name recognition and popularity. Other plausible choices include John Kerry and Elizabeth Warren.

If Clinton were to leave the race, the timing could also make a huge difference in what occurs. At this point I doubt Tim Kaine would be the choice as so far the vice presidential candidates have not had that much exposure. However, if Clinton should leave the race after the Vice Presidential debates, and should Kaine have an outstanding performance, he might also be considered.

The timing could also have a tremendous impact on the election results. Under normal circumstances a party losing its nominee would be placed at a disadvantage. In this case, running against a Republican candidate as awful as Donald Trump, a late entry could still have an excellent chance.  A different candidate might actually do better than Clinton considering how unpopular she is.  The timing could also be important here. A different candidate would have a better chance if entering the race soon, when there is still time to campaign. Whether it occurs after the debates could also be crucial. Should Trump manage to appear credible in a debate against Clinton, it would be harder for someone entering the race late to compete.

Again, this is all pure speculation. It is unlikely that Clinton will leave the race, but the unprecedented situation of a late change in candidates does make for an interesting story.

Hillary Clinton’s Health Has Now Become A Legitimate Campaign Issue

I have previously not paid not attention to the various rumors about Clinton’s health as we really had no good information on Clinton’s medical history (or Donald Trump’s). I was even kicked out of a pro-Bernie group once for contradicting a right wing claim about Clinton’s health which did not hold up. Her episode today has changed matters with the above video clearly showing her collapsing while getting into a van with assistance. There were no reporters allowed near her initially, so we do not know the details of what precipitated her decision to leave the 9/11 memorial early.

clinton_collapse

There are less clear pictures from the past which have raised questions as to Clinton’s health but were much less definitive:

clinton-stairs

Chris Cillizza has had a view similar to mine in previously ignoring these claims, but now writing Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign.

Whether Clinton likes it or not, her “overheating” episode comes at a very bad time for her campaign. Thanks to the likes of Rudy Giuliani and a small but vocal element of the Republican base, talk of her health had been bubbling over the past week — triggered by a coughing episode she experienced during a Labor Day rally.

That talk was largely confined to Republicans convinced that Clinton has long been hiding some sort of serious illness. I wrote dismissively of that conspiracy theory in this space last week, noting that Clinton had been given an entirely clean bill of health by her doctors after an episode in which she fainted, suffered a concussion and then was found to have a blood clot in late 2012 and early 2013.

Coughing, I wrote, is simply not evidence enough of any sort of major illness that Clinton is assumed to be hiding. Neither, of course, is feeling “overheated.” But those two things happening within six days of each other to a candidate who is 68 years old makes talk of Clinton’s health no longer just the stuff of conspiracy theorists.

Whereas Clinton and her campaign could laugh off questions about her health before today, the “overheating” episode makes it almost impossible for them to do so. Not only has it come at a time when there was growing chatter — with very little evidence — that her health was a problem but it also happened at a 9/11 memorial event — an incredibly high-profile moment with lots and lots of cameras and reporters around.

Her campaign may well try to dismiss this story as nothing more than an isolated incident, meaning nothing. (Democrats were already pushing the story of George W. Bush fainting in 2002 after choking on a pretzel, via Twitter.)

But the issue is that Clinton kept reporters totally in the dark for 90 minutes after her abrupt departure from the 9/11 memorial service for a health-related matter. No reporter was allowed to follow her. (Clinton has resisted a protective pool for coverage because Donald Trump refuses to participate in one.) This is, yet again, the Clinton campaign asking everyone to just trust it. She got overheated! But she’s fine now!

Well, that is no longer operative. Context matters. A coughing episode is almost always just a coughing episode. But when coupled with Clinton’s “overheating” on Sunday morning — with temperatures something short of sweltering — Clinton and her team simply need to say something about what happened (and why the press was in the dark for so long.)

Both Clinton and Trump have limited press access, and neither has released very much information on their medical histories. The letter released by Trump’s doctor is especially bizarre. At the moment, however, video such as that taken today makes the health question far more urgent for Clinton. Both candidates should be more honest with the American public, provide greater press access, and provide meaningful medical information.

Update: It has subsequently been reported that Hillary Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. From CNN

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, her doctor said Sunday, hours after the Democratic nominee stumbled and exited a 9/11 commemoration ceremony early.
Clinton was diagnosed on Friday with pneumonia, and “was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule,” Dr. Lisa Bardack said in a statement.
“While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely,” said Bardack, chairman of internal medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group.

It is possible that there is nothing more to this than an episode of pneumonia which will resolve with antibiotics and and rehydration. The problem is that this shows Clinton was not being honest when she claimed to be fine earlier today. This is so typical with Clinton to see information gradually come out to contradict earlier statements from her. This history of dishonesty will also keep people wondering if this is all there is to the story, or if she is covering up more.

As Politico also stated, this shakes up the race. This cannot be resolved satisfactorily without a full release of her medical records.

Clinton Criticizes Trump Supporters But Might Have Lost The Battle After Backing Down

hillary-clinton-basket-of-deplorables-screen-grab

With both major parties nominating corrupt, dishonest, authoritarian right  candidates, one of the many regrettable features of this election is that we are not seeing very much serious discussion over policy. This weekend the campaign has turned into a battle of insults in which Hillary Clinton has the stronger case, but might have still lost to Donald Trump due to how she mishandled it.

The battle began when Clinton said, “You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” The link contains her full statement so it can be read in context.

It is debatable as to whether the initial statement was wise and there is a separate debate as to whether it is accurate.

This analysis from NPR is critical of her comments and argues, “There’s no data to support such a specific number.” They are referring to the “half” in her statement. However, Clinton did preface this as saying she was being “grossly generalistic” which suggests she was not claiming documentation of exactly fifty percent.  The polling numbers cited by NPR and more explicitly by Think Progress (a pro-Clinton site) do actually provide support for her argument. Again, whether it was wise to make such a statement, or to make statements which are admittedly “grossly generalistic” about the opponent’s supporters, is a separate matter, but her statement as made can be supported by facts.

Regardless of whether it was wise to make the statement, once it is out there the question politically becomes how to respond to the inevitable criticism, along with protests from the opponent. Donald Trump, who has given indications of himself being “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic,” has demanded an apology and responded with a tweet: “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!”

Will it affect the election results? Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, another pro-Clinton site, ran an editorial as to how Clinton should respond to this entitled, This Is Critical: Hillary Can’t Back Down. Here is a key portion:

It may have been easier not to say this and left herself vulnerable to a faux-populist counterattack. But she did say it. She cannot unsay it. And since it is not only basically true but in fact a matter of central importance to the entire election, it is truly critical that she not back down.

If there’s nothing else we’ve learned from this cycle we should have learned the centrality of ‘dominance’ politics. Campaigns are performative displays of strength, resolve. To back down, apologize or cower would not only play into Trump’s dominance politics routine, it would make Clinton look weak. It would deepen suspicions that she has no beliefs or will change them out of convenience. Far more importantly though, backing down would demoralize her supporters since it would amount to apologizing for or backing down from and delegitimizing what is in fact a central truth of the election.

After this was written, Clinton did back down. Here are some of the headlines.

  • The Wall Street JournalClinton Says She Was Wrong to Call Half of Trump Supporters ‘Deplorables’
  • Politico: Hillary Clinton walks back ‘basket of deplorables’ remark
  • CBS News: Clinton Walks Back “Basket Of Deplorables” Remarks
  • USA Today: Clinton: I regret saying ‘half’ Trump support from ‘basket of deplorables’
  • CNN: Clinton expresses regret for saying ‘half’ of Trump supporters are ‘deplorables’
  • Independent Journal Review: After National Firestorm Over Her Insult of Trump Supporters, Hillary Clinton Apologizes to America

Actually it was not a full apology, and Clinton did stick to a key part of her initial claim. However, she still did back down in response to complaints from Trump and the right. In a campaign which is devoid of actual substance, and in which some Democrats are already worrying about how Trump is inching his way back into the campaign, this could turn into another point in Trump’s favor. Clinton loses her advantages from experience if Trump appears stronger–especially when Clinton already looks weak due to hiding from the press. Those Democrats who are worried that Trump can still win should keep in mind that Bernie Sanders was polling much better against Trump than Clinton during the primary battle, and if Sanders were the nominee, in contrast to Clinton, he would be talking about policy and ideas.

Both Trump And Clinton Fail Commander-In-Chief Test

commander_in_chief_forum

There appears to be near universal agreement that Matt Lauer’s performance as moderator at the Commander In Chief Forum was a disaster. Lauer certainly failed to fact check multiple false statements from Donald Trump, who was once again confused and incoherent when trying to discuss matters of policy. He also did a poor job in fact checking Hillary Clinton, or at holding her responsible for her long history of poor decisions on foreign policy.

Trump had so many false statements it is difficult to list them all. Perhaps that is his strategy–make it hard to stay focused on any particular falsehood or foolish statement. Factcheck.org and PolitiFact have lists of falsehoods by both candidates. This doesn’t include matters of poor judgment from each candidate. The full text of the forum can be found here.

Among the lowlights from Trump was once again claiming to have opposed the Iraq war before it started, his false claims to have opposed the intervention in Libya at the time, his threat to get rid of the top generals, and his distortion of Clinton’s statements about the problems at the VA. Plus there’s his secret plan to defeat ISIS.

Matt Lauer spent a lot of time on Clinton’s email but did so poorly. He brought up some of the problems but allowed Clinton to get away with the same distortions she has used in the past. This provided nothing new on the issue, and wasted time which would have been better spent on Clinton’s dreadful foreign policy record.

Clinton tends to make lawyerly statements which on the surface are nearly true, but which skirt the real issue. During the forum she said:

“Classified material has a header which says ‘top-secret, secret, confidential.’ Nothing, and I will repeat this and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header.”

There were a few emails which were found to have a designation of c, but Lauer really should have pointed out the more important problem as stated by James Comey:

There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.

As Reuters explained, some types of information are “born classified” and are classified regardless of whether there is a classified header. Clinton is just distorting the issue when concentrating on how the email was labeled.

Another problem for Clinton’s claim is that she was found to have instructed an aide to remove the “identifying heading” and send information trough non-secure channels.

Other falsehoods from Clinton include falsely claiming that Trump wants to privatize the VA when he has actually advocated allowing patient’s in the VA system to obtain care from physicians outside the VA system when necessary–an idea which even some Democrats have supported.

The bigger problem was the limited discussion of actual policy. As Alex Emmons has also pointed out, NBC’s Military Forum Was a Master Class on How Not to Hold Candidates Accountable. For example:

When Hillary Clinton explained her anti-ISIS plan by saying “we are not going to have ground troops in Iraq,” he failed to point out that we already do have those troops. When Donald Trump claimed to have opposed the wars in Iraq and Libya from the beginning, Lauer failed to correct him and tell the audience that wasn’t true…

Lauer chose to ask Trump about his preparedness and past remarks, rather than question his actual plans. “I’d like you to tell our veterans and our people at home why you are prepared for the role of commander in chief,” said Lauer. Lauer would go on to further question Trump about his “preparedness,” his “temperament,” and his receptiveness to intelligence briefings…

Lauer failed to raise many of the most controversial national security issues in the post-9/11 world. For Lauer, the issue was whether Clinton’s emails contained information on the covert drone program, not whether the covert drone program was legal or ethical. He never to pressed her about the surveillance implications of her “intelligence surge,” or what “working with experts in Silicon Valley” meant. Trump was never asked to defend his proposals to infiltrate American mosques and spy on predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. At no point was either candidate pressed for their stance on the drone war, torture, Guantánamo Bay, or mass surveillance.

Clinton avoided true accountability regarding her support for the Iraq war, even twisting this into a reason to support her over Trump, with some rather dubious logic and distortions of the facts:

CLINTON: Now, my opponent was for the war in Iraq. He says he wasn’t. You can go back and look at the record. He supported it. He told Howard Stern he supported it. So he supported it before it happened, he supported it as it was happening, and he is on record as supporting it after it happened. I have taken responsibility for my decision.

LAUER: Let me go to another…

CLINTON: He refuses to take responsibility for his support. That is a judgment issue.

While Trump’s claims of opposing the war before it started do not hold up, there is a huge difference between Trump sounding rather unsure and going along when asked about it, as opposed to Clinton actively promoting going to war based upon false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. She was incorrect about Trump continuing to support the war.

While she admits Iraq was a mistake, she made the same mistakes on both Libya and Syria. That is the real judgment issue. Plus, on Libya, while both originally supported regime change, Clinton continues to defend that disastrous decision, while Trump has come out in opposition. To take Clinton’s own words, it was Clinton who supported it before it happened, supported it as it was happening, and is on record as supporting it after it happened.

Trump was again incoherent with regards to his man-crush on Putin, but I also wish that Lauer had asked Clinton about the danger that her belligerent views towards Russia risks getting us into a war with them. He might have also asked her about her threats to obliterate Iran, her past refusal to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against terrorists (a view similar to the view Trump has rightly been criticized for), her unwillingness to accept a diplomatic solution over war in Syria, and her siding with Republicans to oppose a ban on the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas.

While it was partially due to the candidates only wanting to face questions for a half hour, Lauer does deserve criticism for not taking advantage of the time to further probe the failings of both candidates on foreign policy. The real loser, however, is not Matt Lauer. It is the American people who will be stuck with one of these candidates as president. Neither has the judgment to be Commander In Chief, and both have serious difficulties with telling the truth.

Update: Late night comics on the forum.

Trump Campaign Ends Media Blacklist

trump-media-blacklist

Donald Trump’s campaign has announced  that they are ending the media blacklist. While the right decision, they hardly deserve credit for ending a practice which was wrong to begin with. Representatives of the media were critical:

“Access to a major party’s presidential campaign events shouldn’t be a favor to be granted or withheld,” Politico editor Susan Glasser said.

“It is important to remember that this was an absurd policy to begin with and a dangerous precedent for any campaign to have set,” Huffington Post senior politics editor Sam Stein said.

Others denied press credentials include The Des Moines Register, The Daily Beast, BuzzFeed and Politico.

Independent Journal Review notes that the media blacklist was just one part of Trump’s poor relationship with the media, with press access also restricted by the Clinton campaign:

Trump has said he would “open up” libel laws, mocked of a disabled reporter, and left a target on specific members of his press corps. At one point, the Secret Service had to get involved with a reporter, for fear of her safety.

This week, the Clinton campaign granted campaign plane access to a select group of reporters. Clinton also answered impromptu questions from the press in the air and on the tarmac.

Both Clinton and Trump have been criticized by the media for the ways in which they are hindering press coverage. Last month, Carol Lee, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, argued that both Trump and Clinton are a threat to press freedom.

The Choice We Face In 2016

Clinton v Trump Badges

Having reached Labor Day the presidential election has now officially started. I wish I could say that the months we have already gone through has just been a bad dream and we don’t really have this race between the two worst people in America. There is at least one clear difference between the two, but first the similarity–both have a Foundation scandal.

I’ve already discussed the Clinton Foundation scandals in great detail, including here and here. Between the email and Foundation scandals, Hillary Clinton has been found to have violated policy with regards to using a home server rather than a government email system, failing to turn over any email for archiving which was sent over personal email, destroying over half the email and falsely claiming it was personal, and failed to disclose all donors to the Clinton Foundation as she agreed prior to her confirmation. She unethically made rulings on multiple occasions regarding parties which contributed to the Foundation and/or made unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump has a Foundation scandal of his own. There are far less stories regarding this as there wasn’t the clear conflict of interest of Donald Trump being in a position to sell influence as he was not in the government. Here’s where we have the difference between the two. Instead of selling influence, Donald Trump used his money to buy influence. As The Atlantic points out, he has even admitted it in the past:

“As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July 2015. “As a businessman, I need that.”

Beyond this difference, selling versus buying influence, Clinton and Trump are very much alike. I’ve cited multiple articles from fact checkers showing Clinton lying about her scandals. Trump is sounding a lot like Clinton when he denies any impropriety in a contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi before her office decided not to investigate Trump University in 2013.

Which do you prefer–the crook who sells influence or the scoundrel who buys influence? That’s the choice we face this year.

Creating A State Of Perpetual Warfare

Orwell Continuous War

The Orwellian aspects of our foreign policy have been apparent to its opponents for quite a while. Former CIA officer Barry Eisler did not mention Orwell in an article on perpetual warfare at Boing Boing but either he was considering several aspects of warfare in 1984 or came to similar views as Orwell independently. Some excerpts:

If you were the government and wanted to maintain a state of perpetual war, how would you go about it?

First, you’d need an enemy, of course, but that part would be pretty straightforward. After all, if the US government could convince the citizenry that Iraq was the 9/11 enemy but that Saudi Arabia was our friend when nineteen out of the twenty 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, it’s fair to say that just about anything is possible.

But the next part would be harder. On the one hand, you’d have to claim progress in the war so that the citizenry would maintain its support for the war. On the other hand, you couldn’t actually defeat the enemy, lest the war end.

Eisler here was referring to the latest in a long string of news reports on a significant victory, such as killing a key member of ISIS, while nothing actually changes.

Maybe it’s a coincidence that according to the Pentagon, we’ve achieved yet another concrete War on Terror victory, while according to American officials and counterterrorism specialists, outright victory is still intangible and elusive. Maybe it’s a coincidence that this narrative is precisely the one a team of social scientists would devise if tasked to come up with something that would maintain indefinite support for a never-ending war.

But it would be foolish not to at least wonder. War is awful for almost everyone. But for a few narrow factions, there’s a lot of money to be made and power to be accrued. You could even go out on a limb and argue that war is a racket.

While in 1984,”We‘ve always been at war with Eastasia” the enemy does periodically change. Eisler points out that this could be happening with our perpetual war:

If you were really clever, you’d probably want a backup enemy–a Plan B in case the current enemy du jour were ever somehow actually defeated. In which regard, maybe it’s a coincidence that we are now being told we are now in a new cold war with a resurgent Russia and that Vladimir Putin is behind everything bad in the world. But once again, it would be foolish not to at least wonder.

In 2008, Barack Obama was the peace candidate, yet the war continues and the use of drones has increased. The choices in 2016 appear even worse. Hillary Clinton is probably the most hawkish war monger to run for president in recent memory. Besides pushing for the Iraq war based upon false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, she is the architect of our disastrous policy in Libya, and wanted to repeat the same mistakes in Syria based on absurd arguments. She has also been pushing to extend the conflict to Russia, with a new Cold War, if not an outright hot war.

Her opponent, Donald Trump, has at times spoken out against Clinton’s interventionism, but has been far too incoherent on foreign policy (and everything else) to be seen as a serious alternative. While Clinton appears most likely to win, with Clinton’s favorability at records lows Trump has been cutting into Clinton’s lead, including pulling into a tie in the latest Reuter’s poll.

Third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson might provide a real difference but are marginalized by our system, not even being allowed in the presidential debates, despite widespread dislike for the major party candidates. Just today, Bernie Sanders did say that the threshold for minor parties participating in the debates should be lowered. It is unlikely we will see any real change, or an end to our perpetual war, unless other voices are heard.

Clinton’s Strategy Failing As Trump Moves Into Tie In Reuters Poll

Hillary Down

Hillary Clinton looked like a sure winner a week or two ago, and at this point I still believe will probably win, but that has become far less certain. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll released Friday shows Clinton leading by only one point at 40 to 39 percent. The poll has a three point margin of error. By comparison, “In last week’s poll, Clinton was up by 5 points, and the week before she had a 12-point lead.” The Real Clear Politics average has her lead down to under four percent.

The change is probably a combination of Donald Trump avoiding major blunders, a string of negative news regarding the Clinton scandals, and Clinton failing to take any positive action to capitalize on her lead. Her one recent speech was particularly alarming, including a threat of war against Russia.

Last week Nate Silver wrote that it was too soon for Clinton to try to run out the clock. The Hill reports today that some are starting to worry about her run-out-the-clock strategy:

Hillary Clinton is facing questions about her campaign strategy as Donald Trump laps her on the trail and tightening polls show an increasingly competitive presidential race.

The Democratic nominee nearly vanished from the campaign trail in August to attend high-end private fundraisers and to prepare for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.

At times it has appeared that Clinton believes she can run out the clock against Trump, who fell in the polls after a disastrous stretch following the Democratic convention.

But while Clinton remains the heavy favorite, Trump has rebounded in some national and battleground polls taken in late August.

In that time, controversy has exploded over Clinton Foundation ties to the State Department. A steady drip of developments surrounding Clinton’s use of a private email server also persists, punctuated by Friday’s release by the FBI of documents pertaining to its investigation into her email set-up.

Those controversies have dragged Clinton’s already-dismal approval rating to new lows and have kept her from slamming the door shut on Trump…

Clinton has gone days between events in some cases and hasn’t given a press conference in more than 270 days, a fact that Republicans have been eager to highlight.

The article concludes with a surrogate saying, “She’ll be driving the suitability question which is an important metric for a lot of undecided voters.”

The problem for Clinton this week has been that major questions have been raised over her own suitability to be president, in terms of both her honesty and judgement, with Clinton’s unfavorable ratings now almost as high as Trump’s. The papers released by the FBI on Friday add  further evidence that Clinton is unfit to be president. A defense based upon not remembering anything, not understanding how classified information is to be handled, and not understanding modern technology, are hardly attributes which make one suitable to be president. It is unlikely that Hillary Clinton could be hired into any significant position in the government or be confirmed to any appointed position. She only maintains the possibility of being elected president because of having an opponent as dreadful as Donald Trump.

Clinton Threatens War With Russia

Clinton bombs

Hillary Clinton’s speech to the American Legion this week raised eyebrows among some one the left with her jingoism and praise for American exceptionalism. One segment was particularly disturbing as she sounds like she is threatening military action against Russia:

We’ll invest in the next frontier of military engagement, protecting U.S. interests in outer space and cyberspace. You’ve seen reports. Russia’s hacked into a lot of things. China’s hacked into a lot of things. Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee, maybe even some state election systems. So, we’ve got to step up our game. Make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us.

As President, I will make it clear, that the United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses. And we’re going to invest in protecting our governmental networks and our national infrastructure. I want us to lead the world in setting the rules of cyberspace.

Justin Raimondo responded at Antiwar.com:

If that isn’t a veiled threat to attack Russia in retaliation for their alleged “cyber-attacks” on the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Foundation, then what is she trying to say?

This should scare the bejesus out of “liberals” and others on the left who have been scammed into jumping on the Clinton bandwagon in the name of stopping Trump. Are we really going to start World War III in order to avenge the honor of Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Given how problematic attribution is in the case of cyber-attacks, this threat of “military action” makes Dr. Strangelove look sane.

For all the yelping and screeching in the media about how Trump is “unstable,” and even crazy, this threat shows that Hillary in quite simply unhinged. Her major theme these days resembles something out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook: her campaign has come right out and said Trump is “Putin’s puppet.” And since she so clearly believes the Russians are actively disrupting her efforts to take the White House, it’s reasonable to assume her policy toward Russia will reflect this in a vindictive campaign of revenge.

And they tell us Trump is “scary”!

If Hillary Clinton doesn’t scare you, then you aren’t paying attention.

It is no surprise that the arms industry has been donating so much money to Hillary Clinton. There is a long history of bad blood between Clinton and  Putin, and neocons have long desired to try regime change in Russia. We saw how well that worked out in Iraq. Donald Trump’s naive man-crush on Putin in response to a compliment from Putin is also disturbing, but Clinton’s long history of belligerence towards Russia really should scare us.

The facts behind the DNC hack remain unclear, with the anti-Russia hysteria raised by the Clinton camp sounding remarkably like the both Cold War red-baiting and like the anti-Iraq hysteria during the run-up to that war (with Hillary Clinton falsely claiming that their were ties between Saddam and al Qaeda). While I would not exclude the possibility of Russian involvement, Putin has again denied responsibility.

The lack of a credible opponent this year is allowing Hillary Clinton to get a pass on her rather alarming views on foreign policy and military interventionism. Voters have forgotten that eight years ago Clinton was rejected by Democrats and found by many to be the scary one. This included alarm raised by many Democrats when Hillary Clinton criticized Barack Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons against terrorists and for being willing to speak with our adversaries. From The Washington Post nine years ago:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton drew another distinction between herself and Sen. Barack Obama yesterday, refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Osama bin Laden or other terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Clinton’s comments came in response to Obama’s remarks earlier in the day that nuclear weapons are “not on the table” in dealing with ungoverned territories in the two countries, and they continued a steady tug of war among the Democratic presidential candidates over foreign policy…

“Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrents to keep the peace, and I don’t believe any president should make blanket statements with the regard to use or nonuse,” Clinton said.

At a debate last week in South Carolina, Clinton directly criticized Obama for saying he would meet with leaders traditionally hostile to the United States. Obama responded, and the sniping went on most of the week…

U.S. officials rarely rule out nuclear attacks as a matter of diplomacy, preferring to keep the threat as a deterrent. Yet several foreign policy experts said Obama was essentially right: It would be unwise to target an individual or a small group with nuclear weapons that could kill civilians and worsen the United States’ image around the world.

Michael O’Hanlon, a Brookings Institution scholar, said Obama “clearly gave the right answer.”

This year Donald Trump has been criticized for not taking nuclear weapons off the table in fighting ISIS. While he was wrong, his position was essentially the same as the position promoted by Hillary Clinton.

USA Today Poll Confirms That Voters Are Motivated By Fear Of Opposing Candidate

USA Today-Debate-Over-Debates

Another poll shows Hillary Clinton maintaining her post-convention lead over Donald Trump, but not because voters are so excited about her. A USA Today Suffolk University Poll showed, as others have, that people are voting out of fear and hatred for the opponent, not support for either candidate:

Not even their own supporters are all that excited about winning.

A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, taken as Labor Day launches the final sprint toward the election, finds supporters of both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump more motivated by fear about the other side claiming the White House than they are by excitement about their own candidate prevailing…

Driving the election is antipathy toward the competition: 80% of Trump supporters and 62% of Clinton supporters say if the other candidate wins in November, they would feel “scared,” the most negative of four possible choices.

Those are stronger feelings than they express about a victory by their own candidate. Just 27% of Clinton supporters and 29% of Trump supporters would feel “excited,” the most positive choice. A majority of both sides — 62% for Clinton and 52% for Trump — predict a more temperate “satisfied” feeling instead.

Despite such considerable dislike for Clinton and Trump, only 9% support Gary Johnson and 4 % support Jill Stein. However, 76 percent believe they should be included in the presidential debates. Presumably their support would also increase if more voters could actually see them in the debates. Current rules require that a candidate be at 15 percent in the polls to be included in the debates.

USA Today also found that a majority of those voting for Clinton are very likely or somewhat likely to split their vote and vote for Republicans down ticket. This is presumably because they are voting for Clinton out of hatred for Donald Trump and not support for her or her party. Besides, Clinton is far closer to the Republicans ideologically, and it would make sense for those preferring a Republican Congress to back Clinton for president. I also wonder how many see a Republican Congress as a means of keeping check on corruption from Clinton, assuming she is elected.

If this result holds, it suggests real disaster for the Democratic Party should Clinton be elected without bringing in Democrats down ticket. Normally the party winning the presidential election does well down ticket in the presidential election, but then suffers losses in the off-year election. If Democrats do not start out with a good year this year, midterm loses could be devastating, especially if Clinton remains as unpopular as she is now. I suspect this is an election in which the party who loses the White House will wind up doing better long term.