Donald Trump Playing Into The Hands of ISIS

maddow_trump

The conventional wisdom has been that Donald Trump would benefit in the presidential race were there were to be a terrorist attack or economic downturn. In the aftermath of the attack in Orlando, that will probably be revised. Trump might still benefit from economic problems, with a majority trusting Trump over Clinton on the economy. It is too soon to have any polling, but it is hard to see Trump benefiting from his post-Orlando comments, including his speech today, which sounds much better in the original German.

Trump was already doing poorly since he clinched the nomination, with his campaign limited to attacks on other Republicans and racist attacks on judges. His statements over the last couple of days might have doomed him to a landslide loss. I fear that when Trump said, “The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here” he really does see every Muslim immigrant as being a future terrorist.

Trump has tried to place the blame on both Obama and Clinton for the attack. He is correct in criticizing Clinton’s Libya policy for the spread of terrorism in the region, and her views on Syria were almost as insane as Trump’s foreign policy. However, Trump is being selective in looking at Libya and Syria, while ignoring Iraq, where both the Republicans and Clinton were wrong. While these policies did make matters worse in the middle east, it is premature to connect this to the lone terrorist in Orlando without clearer knowledge of his views and motivation.

More importantly, while again he is right to condemn Clinton’s Libya and Syria positions, he has hardly been consistent, and Trump’s position here is also quite dangerous. As David Ignatius and William Saleton have pointed out, Trump’s attack on Islam plays right into the hands of terrorists–as George Bush did when he attacked Iraq. From Saleton’s article:

Trump also reinforces ISIS’s message that the campaign against it is a war against Islam. His ban on entry to the United States would apply to all Muslims, not just to radicals or supporters of terrorism. Three months ago, Trump declared that “Islam hates us” and refused to distinguish radical Muslims from Muslims in general, arguing that “it’s very hard to separate because you don’t know who is who.” On Friday, just before the Orlando attack, he told an audience of conservative Christians that he would “defend Christian Americans” and clamp down on the influx of “Syrian refugees.”

n short, Trump would undercut everything that’s working against ISIS: Muslim governments that have joined our military campaign, clerics who are articulating moderate Islam, ministries and activists who are working online to discredit jihadism. He would help ISIS obtain the weapons it needs most: overseas recruits who are willing to kill people in their own countries. He would make another Orlando more likely.

Trump thinks his policy of “vigilance” against domestic Muslims would protect us. But that, too, serves the enemy’s agenda. In its Ramadan message, ISIS urged its sympathizers in the West to wage jihad in their own countries, “to make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorizing them, until every neighbor fears his neighbor.” That’s the purpose of the attacks in Fort Hood, Boston, San Bernardino, and Orlando: to terrorize us, to polarize us, to make every neighbor fear his neighbor.

So far, the terrorists haven’t succeeded. But Trump might.

I continue to fear how a war monger like Hillary Clinton might respond to a terrorist attack as president. There is also the question of how significant it is that Hillary Clinton has taken another step to the right of Barack Obama, at least in her terminology. In other words, Hillary Clinton is the neocon in this race, and is the candidate representing the usual Republican view. Donald Trump is looking like something even scarier.

Bernie Sanders had a more sensible response, which also demonstrated the limitations to Chuck Todd’s world view. While not very likely, I am still holding out hope that both parties come to their senses at their conventions, as opposed to leaving us with what might be the worst election choice ever.

Mark Your Calendar–State Expects To Have Clinton Email Available In 75 Years

Clinton Email

Hillary Clinton was declared to be the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party by the news media yesterday, on a day when there was no voting taking place. The Democratic establishment probably will get their candidate, but in the process risks losing a generation of voters and alienating independents.

Glenn Greenwald had this to say:

That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is. The one positive aspect, though significant, is symbolic, while the actual substance — rallying behind a Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire militarist — is grim in the extreme. The Democratic Party got exactly the ending it deserved.

This is an unprecedented, historical moment as Hillary Clinton becomes the first major party nominee who is under FBI investigation and embroiled in major scandals. There was a time when political parties might have cared about this.

Multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have been requested for Clinton’s email from when she was Secretary of State. There was hope that we might learn more about the person likely to become the next president before election day. Don’t hold your breath. The Hill reports:

The State Department said it would take 75 years for the release of emails from top aides to Hillary Clinton from during her time as secretary of State.

Lawyers said it would take that long to compile the 450,000 pages of records from former Clinton aides Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan and Patrick Kennedy, according to a court filing from last week, which was first reported by CNN.

“Given the Department’s current [Freedom of Information Act] workload and the complexity of these documents, it can process about 500 pages a month, meaning it would take approximately 16-and-2/3 years to complete the review of the Mills documents, 33-and-1/3 years to finish the review of the Sullivan documents, and 25 years to wrap up the review of the Kennedy documents — or 75 years in total,” the State Department said in the filing…

“The volume of FOIA requests received by the Department has tripled since 2008. In fiscal year 2015 alone we received approximately 22,000 FOIA requests,” Trudeau said. “The requests are also frequently more complex and seek larger volumes of documents, requiring significantly more time, resources, and interagency coordination. While we have increased staffing for our FOIA office, our available resources are still nonetheless constrained.”

Perhaps the volume wouldn’t have been so high if Clinton had complied with laws in effect when she was Secretary of State to promote government transparency in the administration Barack Obama promised would be the most transparent ever.

This includes requests from both the right and the left. David Sirota requested Clinton’s State Department correspondence regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership in July 2015. He initially was told he would receive the documents in April 2016. He has now been told this is being delayed until November 31, 2016. That is not only after the election, but on a day which does not exist. (Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November…).

Considering Hillary Clinton’s long standing opposition to transparency and open-government, I expect that if she is elected there will be a lot of information held for November 31 in future years.

Sanders Criticizes Conflict of Interest With Clinton Foundation & Clinton’s Interventionist Foreign Policy Views

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Bernie Sanders has tried to stick to the issues when campaigning, despite a dishonest Rovian-style campaign from Clinton. While there should be no place in a campaign for the types of lies used by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, discussing an opponents actual record is fair game if done honestly. Sanders decided against making use of the email and other scandals surrounding Hillary Clinton. Of course he also said that the investigations were being conducted and, while he did not use the scandals against Clinton in the campaign, he never exonerated Clinton for her actions (even if Clinton supporters cherry-pick quotes to give that impression). Sanders is finally changing course.

The Hill reports on Sanders making references to the Foundation scandals when interviewed on CNN.  While he has mentioned other conflicts of interest involving Clinton and her paid speeches, I am not aware of him discussing this until now.

Sanders hits Clinton Foundation over foreign donations

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders criticized the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from foreign governments in an interview aired Sunday, calling it a conflict of interest.

“Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of State and a foundation run by her husband collects many, many dollars from foreign governments — governments which are dictatorships?

“Yeah, I do have a problem with that. Yeah, I do,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

When host Jake Tapper asked if he thought it was a conflict of interest, Sanders said, “I do.”

CNN reports that Sanders also took his criticism of Clinton’s militaristic foreign policy views further than his previous criticism on her Iraq vote:
Bernie Sanders unleashed a sharp attack on Hillary Clinton over foreign policy on Sunday, casting her as too eager to use U.S. military force and saying her family charity’s acceptance of foreign countries’ contributions could be a conflict of interest.

The Vermont senator told CNN’s Jake Tapper the former secretary of state is too quick to “rush in” and remove dictators and he criticized Clinton’s approaches to Iraq, Libya and Syria.

“I worry about that, yeah, I do. I think her support for the war in Iraq was not just an aberration,” Sanders said of Clinton’s vote to authorize the Iraq War, in the interview that aired on “State of the Union.”

“I think that her willingness to kind of push President (Barack) Obama to overthrow (Libyan leader Moammar) Gaddafi and lead to the kind of instability that we’re seeing now in Libya — not inconsistent with her other views on Syria, where she wants a no-fly zone, which I think can suck us into never-ending conflict in that area,” he said.

I wonder whether he would have done better if he had criticized Clinton on these topics from the beginning of the race. Unless he can change the votes of those in the Democratic establishment who created a system which tilted the nomination towards Clinton from the start, Sanders cannot win enough delegates to win the nomination. Despite this, Sanders supporters remain firmly behind him, and nobody knows what he will do next. It should be tempting to remain in the race, both to push his views and to remain an alternative if Clinton’s scandals do force her from the race before the convention. While it is unlikely she will be forced out, it is still a possibility as she does remain under investigation by the FBI, in addition to having a very negative report on the email scandal from the State Department Inspector General.

Sanders might also feel more free to continue to criticize Clinton with Donald Trump looking less likely to win. Sanders repeated his criticism of Trump earlier today in California:

One day before the California primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called it “absolutely imperative” that voters turn out to defeat Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday and cast himself as the candidate best positioned to beat Trump.

“It is absolutely imperative that we defeat Donald Trump as a candidate for President of the United States. I believe I’m the stronger candidate,” Sanders told reporters in San Francisco, highlighting polls that shows him performing better than Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton against Trump.

“If the turnout is high tomorrow, we will win. If the turnout is very high, I think we will win by big numbers,” Sanders said.

He also called it “incomprehensible” that the presumptive nominee from a major political party is launching racially-charged attacks targeting a federal judge.

“[Trump] is essentially running his campaign on bigotry, on insulting Mexicans and Latinos, on insulting Muslims, on insulting African-Americans, on insulting women,” Sanders said. “It is clear to me that we have got to do everything that we can as a nation to make certain that Donald Trump does not become President of the United States.”

While Clinton has been doing poorly in the polls against Trump, she continues to have the Democratic advantage in the electoral college, and Trump is showing he has a lot to learn. He has very little campaign organization and continues to create controversy with racist and xenophobic remarks. He ignores facts and treats the campaign like a reality show, where “reality” can be altered to make the show more dramatic. If Clinton cannot move out to a large lead over Trump by the time of the convention, this would be another reason to question whether she should be the Democratic nominee.

Former Adviser to Bill Clinton Suggests Hillary Might Not Be Democratic Nominee

Never Hillary

Many people hope that Hillary Clinton will be prevented from receiving the Democratic nomination, but I would have taken this prediction much less seriously if it wasn’t from a former adviser to Bill Clinton. Douglas Schoen writes, Clinton Might Not Be the Nominee.

A Sanders win in California would powerfully underscore Mrs. Clinton’s weakness as a candidate in the general election. Democratic superdelegates—chosen by the party establishment and overwhelmingly backing Mrs. Clinton, 543-44—would seriously question whether they should continue to stand behind her candidacy…

Another problem: In recent weeks the perception that Mrs. Clinton would be the strongest candidate against Donald Trump has evaporated. The Real Clear Politics polling average has Mrs. Clinton in a statistical tie with Mr. Trump, and recent surveys from ABC News/Washington Post and Fox News show her two and three points behind him, respectively.

Then there is that other crack in the argument for Mrs. Clinton’s inevitability: Bernie Sanders consistently runs stronger than she does against Mr. Trump nationally, beating him by about 10 points in a number of recent surveys…

Mrs. Clinton also faces growing legal problems. The State Department inspector general’s recent report on Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state made it abundantly clear that she broke rules and has been far from forthright in her public statements. The damning findings buttressed concerns within the party that Mrs. Clinton and her aides may not get through the government’s investigation without a finding of culpability somewhere.

With Mrs. Clinton reportedly soon to be interviewed by the FBI, suggesting that the investigation is winding up, a definitive ruling by the attorney general could be issued before the July 25 Democratic convention in Philadelphia. Given the inspector general’s report, a clean bill of health from the Justice Department is unlikely.

Finally, with Mrs. Clinton’s negative rating nearly as high as Donald Trump’s, and with voters not trusting her by a ratio of 4 to 1, Democrats face an unnerving possibility. Only a month or two ago, they were relishing the prospect of a chaotic Republican convention, with a floor fight and antiestablishment rebellion in the air. Now the messy, disastrous convention could be their own.

There are increasing rumblings within the party about how a new candidate could emerge at the convention. John Kerry, the 2004 nominee, is one possibility. But the most likely scenario is that Vice President Joe Biden—who has said that he regrets “every day” his decision not to run—enters the race.

Mr. Biden would be cast as the white knight rescuing the party, and the nation, from a possible Trump presidency. To win over Sanders supporters, he would likely choose as his running mate someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren who is respected by the party’s left wing.

It is unprecidented to have a party embrace a candidate such as Hillary Clinton who is involved in such major scandals. It is as if the Republicans had nominated Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal broke.

So far Democrats do not seem all that concerned about nominating Clinton. If there weren’t enough reasons for the party to keep Clinton from being the nominee, the State Department’s Inspector General report should have put an end to her campaign.

Yesterday I noted a poll showing that seventy-one percent of Democras think Clinton should remain in the race even if indicted. While exact numbers from Rasmussen have to  be taken with a grain of salt, I have found that many Democrats do continue to defend Clinton and have no doubt they would continue to do so if indicted, or even if she was videotaped kicking puppies and babies.

While the chances are low, the possibility of stopping Hillary is far greater than in 2008, when Clinton speculated that Obama might not receive the nomination due to assasination. Sanders should continue to fight for every possible delegate to maximizes the chances that if Clinton is stopped he can win the nomination. In making the argument to both voters and superdelegates as to why he should be the nominee instead of Clinton, he should also stop limiting his campaign by refraining from talknig about the scandals.

Chris Cillizza refers to Sanders’ decision to not talk about Clinton’s email as the biggest mistake of his campaign:

That’s not to say that if Sanders had aggressively raised questions about Clinton’s email practices, he would have beaten her for the nomination; he still might not have. But rather than trying to seize on a primary in Pennsylvania or New York — both of which he lost — as the game-changing moment in the race, Sanders might actually have been able to prosecute a longer-term case against Clinton in a spot where she was (and is) clearly vulnerable.

Large majorities of the public — including the oft-touted independent voter — believe that the words “honest” and “trustworthy” don’t describe Clinton. The email story — even with Sanders virtually ignoring it — has helped erode those numbers over the past 14 months. The email controversy plays directly into many of the things that people — including Democrats! — don’t like or are wary of when it comes to the Clintons. The sense that the rules don’t apply to them. That they believe the world is out to get them. That they only keep people close who slavishly repeat back to them what they want to hear.

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.

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.

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.

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).

The Battle Is On Between Dangerous Donald & Crooked Hillary

Trump Clinton Celebrity Death Match

While I will not entirely give up hope of an upset in the Democratic race by Bernie Sanders, the media is getting set for the showdown between Dangerous Donald and Crooked Hillary. Those are the current nicknames each has chosen for other, and they are both right about the other. I had planned to call them greater evil and lesser evil, but found that too many readers disagree as to which is which, even if we agree both of them are too evil to be fit to be president, or hold any other elective office.

Dangerous Donald is trying hard to win over the Republicans. He already has the racist and xenophobic base of GOP voters, but reaction to him is mixed among the more ideological GOP leaders (who never figured out that the base doesn’t really care about their economic theories). Trump is backing away from one of his more dangerous and controversial ideas. He now says that banning Muslims from entering the country was “only a suggestion.”

It hardly sounded like only a suggestion when he first stated: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

By this logic, does Trump think that Hitler’s rants in Mein Kampf were only suggestions?

Will he let Clinton get away with saying her proposals for military intervention in Iraq, Libya, and Syria were only a suggestion?

Will the media continue to play softball with Trump, or will they start asking him the types of followup questions which he does not appear capable of answering?

But here’s another sign that Trump is getting more moderate. He has disavowed his butler after he called for the killing of Barack Obama. A month ago Trump would have probably backed the proposal at his rallies.

Meanwhile it hasn’t been a good week for Crooked Hillary. As I warned months ago, the moment the Republicans settled on a candidate, the winner would look more like a serious candidate and would get a bounce in the polls. As I noted Tuesday, the election has become a virtual tie based upon the polls. Since then, a Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Wednesday also shows Clinton leading by just one percent. While the news media has generally been biased towards Clinton, CNN has posted an article entitled Why Sanders is a better bet against Trump on Thursday.

We might be seeing a lot of additional information demonstrating why Crooked Hillary deserves her name. While Sanders didn’t use such scandals against Clinton, there is no doubt that Trump will. Today there were reports that Clinton Charity Aided Clinton Friends.

While I have been far more concerned about the violations of policies regarding government transparency and the influence peddling by Clinton, the FBI investigation has dominated talk in the media. Clinton has tried to downplay this, saying it is just a security inquiry. This week, FBI Director James Corney has contradicted Clinton’s statement. Security inquiry is not a thing. This is an investigation. Still, I continue to doubt that Clinton will be indicted considering her position, even if lower level people have been prosecuted for less. However, nobody knows for sure what will happen, and it makes no sense for a major political party to even consider nominating Clinton under the circumstances.

Clinton has also faced difficulties policy-wise too this week, with Huffington Post and Common Dreams chastising Clinton for refusing to Rule Out Any and All Benefit Cuts to Social Security. On the other side, I’m sure there are a lot of Republicans who are angry with Dangerous Donald for not promising to cut Social Security.

While Sanders remains Clinton’s major challenger for the Democratic nomination, there might be members of the party establishment who will not accept Sanders but realize that Clinton is a major liability for the party. There seems to be some who are out floating a Biden/Warren trial balloon.

Larry Wilmore At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Yesterday I had posted Barack Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Above is the video of Larry Wilmore’s remarks. Coverage here and here.