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.

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.

The Hill Warns Of Chaos Scenario For Democrats With Clinton Server Under FBI Investigation

Clilnton FBI Investigation

One astonishing characteristic about this presidential race is that Democrats who were justifiably outraged about every violation of the rules and acts to obstruct government transparency under George W. Bush are willing to defend actions which were often worse when committed by Hillary Clinton. Even if they are willing to excuse her actions on partisan/tribal grounds, it is a risky proposition to nominate a candidate whose activities are under FBI investigation. It would be like the Republicans nominating Nixon after the facts about Watergate were known. The Hill considers Clinton’s problems in discussing The Chaos Scenario for Democrats:

It’s the scenario that Republicans dream of and Democrats believe is all but impossible: Hillary Clinton being forced to drop out of the presidential race due to criminal charges over her email server.

Any bombshell findings in the FBI’s investigation of Clinton could plunge the Democratic race into chaos…

In the event that Clinton stepped aside after winning the nomination at the convention, the Democratic National Committee could decide on the replacement on its own.

If an indictment came before the convention, the path would be more difficult.

Unlike the Republican Party, which binds most of its delegates to candidates regardless of delegates’ personal preferences, Democratic candidates have input on who represents them on the convention floor.

“There are no Clinton-bound delegates who would prefer voting for Sanders, for example,” delegate expert and University of Georgia professor Josh Putnam, told The Hill.

“Those folks are essentially hand-picked to be loyal. They are unlikely to stray.”

They discussed options including Sanders winning the nomination based upon his delegate strength, versus party leaders turning to a more establishment candidate:

“The superdelegates would flee first because they are politicians,” said one Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns.

“They are most likely to feel the pressure not to cast their ballots in favor of a nominee under indictment.”

If enough pledged Clinton delegates and superdelegates went to Sanders and delivered him 2,383 delegates, he would win the nomination.

But delegates could also coalesce around a new candidate not in the race. One likely fallback would be Vice President Biden, who came very close to running for president last year.

But denying Sanders the nomination could come with a heavy price, potentially alienating the millions of Democrats who cast ballots for him in the primary process…

Should the party be forced to leave Clinton, one thing that could work against Sanders is his late arrival to the Democratic Party. He’s spent his entire 30-year career in Congress as an Independent, and recently said he ran for president as a Democrat for media coverage.

“Most of these other politicians and political leaders in the community, they don’t really know Bernie Sanders because he’s never been a national Democrat,” the Democratic strategist said.

“They know Joe [Biden], they know John Kerry. It’s completely conceivable that they would turn from somebody they know and respect — Hillary — to somebody else they know and respect and bypass Sanders.”

This assumes a clear cut result should Clinton be indicted when there is time to chose another candidate. I suspect the outcome of the current investigations might not be so clear cut. The FBI could recommend indictment, but this does not mean that the Obama Justice Department would agree to prosecute. News of such an FBI recommendation would be huge if it were to come out. Is is quite possible that they might see Clinton as too big to prosecute, but she has three top aides in her campaign who also were involved in the handling of classified information under her at the State Department. Clinton might go on as the nominee if one or more of them were indicted, but it could greatly cripple her campaign.

It also must be kept in mind that, while the mishandling of classified information is the most dramatic complaint against her, with others prosecuted for doing less, this is only part of the entire scandal. Her actions included serious breaches of rules to promote government transparency, including new rules instituted under Obama in 2009 in response to the abuses under George W. Bush. Her claims, such as that what she did was allowed, have been repeatedly debunked by the fact checkers. She acted highly unethically in making decisions regarding parties who were either donating to the Foundation or paying unprecedented speaking fees to Bill. She also failed to abide by an agreement to divulge all donors while she was Secretary of State.

Reportedly the FBI has extended its investigation to such conduct at the State Department. Congress is also investigating, and I bet the Republicans will time matters to use this to embarrass Clinton during the general election campaign. It will not be as easy for her to respond to these legitimate concerns as it was to blow off the Benghazi nonsense from Republicans. All of this will provide a tremendous amount of ammunition for the Republican candidate this fall. If Donald Trump could destroy Jeb Bush by calling him low energy, imagine what he might do with actual evidence of unethical behavior by Clinton.

Democrats might wind up wishing that one of the scenarios play out early to allow them to pick a different nominee. Voters in the remaining primaries should also keep in mind that Bernie Sanders does better than Clinton against potential Republican candidates in the polls, and he is not under FBI investigation.

Obama Undermines Clinton’s Ability To Be Commander In Chief In New Interview

hillary_clinton_libya-620x412

While probably inadvertent, Barack Obama has significantly undermined Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in an interview with Jeffery Goldberg being published this week in The Atlantic. Despite Goldberg’s own hawkish views, problems with Clinton’s policies can still be seen regardless of Goldberg’s spin on matters.

While Secretary of State, Clinton generally advocated a far more hawkish approach than Obama, supporting a continuation of the neoconservative policies of the Bush years. Despite the manner in which she now invokes Obama’s name in the same manner that Republicans speak of Ronald Reagan, she previously attacked Obama’s “Don’t do stupid stuff” approach to foreign policy.

Obama and Clinton had major differences of opinion over Syria, with Clinton proposing military intervention which would have probably made the situation far worse:

Hillary Clinton, when she was Obama’s secretary of state, argued for an early and assertive response to Assad’s violence. In 2014, after she left office, Clinton told me that “the failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad … left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” When The Atlantic published this statement, and also published Clinton’s assessment that “great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Obama became “rip-shit angry,” according to one of his senior advisers. The president did not understand how “Don’t do stupid shit” could be considered a controversial slogan. Ben Rhodes recalls that “the questions we were asking in the White House were ‘Who exactly is in the stupid-shit caucus? Who is pro–stupid shit?’ ” The Iraq invasion, Obama believed, should have taught Democratic interventionists like Clinton, who had voted for its authorization, the dangers of doing stupid shit. (Clinton quickly apologized to Obama for her comments, and a Clinton spokesman announced that the two would “hug it out” on Martha’s Vineyard when they crossed paths there later.)

While Clinton supported early military intervention, Obama deserves credit for stepping back from the brink of war. Clinton opposed this decision:

For some foreign-policy experts, even within his own administration, Obama’s about-face on enforcing the red line was a dispiriting moment in which he displayed irresolution and naïveté, and did lasting damage to America’s standing in the world. “Once the commander in chief draws that red line,” Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and then as secretary of defense in Obama’s first term, told me recently, “then I think the credibility of the commander in chief and this nation is at stake if he doesn’t enforce it.” Right after Obama’s reversal, Hillary Clinton said privately, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.”

This is a classic example of Clinton’s poor judgment. We should go to war only based upon security considerations, and only as a last resort when diplomacy will not work.  To make someone who thinks we had no choice in such a situation Commander In Chief is a terrifying prospect.

One of Obama’s biggest mistakes as president was to take Clinton’s advice on Libya. He admits it was a mistake:

But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, “Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.”) American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.

Obama also calls Libya a “shit show” ” in part because it’s subsequently become an ISIS haven.”

While Obama admits “It didn’t work,” Clinton continues to defend the policy. She has not learned from her mistakes in Iraq or Libya.

The neoconservative policies advocated by Hillary Clinton have been a disaster. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for war.

Smoking Gun In Latest Email Release Could Potentially End Hillary Clinton’s Political Career

Clinton Email

Email released during the middle of the night might bring about the end of Hillary Clinton’s political career, and possibly result in  felony charges against her. One of the emails shows Clinton instructing an aide to remove the “identifying heading” and send information trough non-secure channels when they were having difficulty sending over secure fax.  The Hill reports:

In order to speed up the transmission of a set of talking points, Hillary Clinton asked an aide to send information to her through a “nonsecure” channel.

In an email marked June 17, 2011, that was released by the State Department on Friday, Clinton informs aide Jake Sullivan that she has not yet received a set of talking points.

“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax,” Sullivan says. “They’re working on it.”

“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” Clinton responds.

It is not clear what the contents of the email were, whether information sent was classified or secure or whether the order was carried out.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the email “disturbing.”

“The State Department’s latest Freedom of Information Act release contains a disturbing email that appears to show the former Secretary of State instructing a subordinate to remove the headings from a classified document and send it to her in an unsecure manner,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“It raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server,” he added.

If Hillary Clinton did instruct someone to remove the markings on classified information and send it over her private email system, this would be a felony, violating laws such as such as U.S. Code 793. The question remains whether the information was classified, but from the context it is hard to accept any other explanation. If the information wasn’t classified, it wouldn’t have been an issue that they were having difficulty with the secure fax.  Ed Morrissey’s thoughts on this are hard to argue with:

  • Unclassified material doesn’t need to be transmitted by secure fax; if the material wasn’t classified, Sullivan would have had them faxed normally.
  • Ordering aides to remove headers to facilitate the transmission over unsecured means strongly suggests that the information was not unclassified. On top of that, removing headers to avoid transmission security would be a violation of 18 USC 793 anyway, which does not require material to be classified — only sensitive to national security.

Contrary to Clinton’s previous claims that she did not send or receive classified email on her private server, by McClatchy’s count there were at least 1,340 emails contained classified material, including sixty-six in the latest release. While not marked as classified, “intelligence officials say some material was clearly classified at the time. Her aides also sent and received classified information.” As Reuters explained in August, when a smaller amount of classified information had already been discovered in Clinton’s email, this information could have been “born classified” and be considered classified regardless of whether the State Department had labeled it classified:

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House’s National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”

Reuters’ findings may add to questions that Clinton has been facing over her adherence to rules concerning sensitive government information. Spokesmen for Clinton declined to answer questions, but Clinton and her staff maintain she did not mishandle any information.

“I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified,” Clinton told reporters at a campaign event in Nevada on Tuesday.

Although it appears to be true for Clinton to say none of her emails included classification markings, a point she and her staff have emphasized, the government’s standard nondisclosure agreement warns people authorized to handle classified information that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form.

Two of the emails were previously “top secret” with one later downgraded to “secret.”

Previously there were questions as to whether Clinton’s actions were intentional or if she understood enough about the computer systems to understand what was occurring. This email statement, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure” should end the possibility of any defense along these lines.

The email also displayed further evidence of Clinton’s attitude that the rules which apply to others do not apply to her. The latest batch of emails include one where Clinton was surprised that a staffer was using private email. As I noted in this summary of the email scandal from July, an ambassador under Clinton was fired with failure to abide by rules against using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here).

With the FBI investigating Clinton’s email practices at the State Department, there has been growing speculation in recent weeks that she will be facing criminal charges. While this tends to be more in the conservative media, it does appear that the FBI had already stepped up its probe late in 2015, and this latest “smoking gun” should increase the chances.

At this point nobody outside of the FBI knows were their probe is headed, but regardless of whether Clinton is indicted, her violations of Obama’s stricter standards for government transparency initiated in 2009, along with previous regulations, unethically receiving money (in the form of donations to the Foundation and extraordinarily high speaking fees to Bill, as well as questions of improperly handling classified information will be a major impediment to running in a general election, should Clinton fight off a challenge from Bernie Sanders which is looking much like Obama’s challenge eight years ago in terms of generating support, including a thirteen point lead today in New Hampshire.

Joe Biden said this week that he regrets his decision not to run “every day.” With many Democratic Party insiders appearing determined to keep Sanders from winning the nomination, it is just possible that they might offer Biden a second chance should they recognize how damaging the latest emails could be to Clinton’s election chances, or should she be indicted.

Hillary Clinton Resorts To Dirty Politics & Bernie Sanders Responds By Showing Differences On The Issues

Sanders Jefferson Jackson

Hillary Clinton has had a very good month, especially with Joe Biden deciding not to run, which is starting to solidify her support among the Democratic mainstream. Therefore it is puzzling that she would decide to take the low road in the campaign, playing the sex card much like she played the race card against Barack Obama eight years ago. She not only continued her campaign strategy of distorting Sanders’ record on gun control, but twisted a statement to falsely accuse him of sexism. While some of  Clinton’s supporters have frequently accused anyone who disagrees with Clinton’s views, or objects to her low ethical standards, of sexism, as far as I am aware this is the first time Hillary Clinton has stooped this low during this campaign.

During the recent Democratic debate, Sanders repeated a line he frequently uses in  his stump speech, criticizing the shouting from both sides on the issue. Democrats who are seen as opposing the private ownership of guns under any circumstance do not have the credibility which Sanders has, having supported both sensible gun control and the rights of hunters to own guns, to bridge this issue. When talking about shouting on the issue, Sanders is talking about all parties. Clinton twisted this in her response: “I’m not shouting. It’s just that when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.”

Clinton is foolish to play dirty in the campaign when she has the lead as she already faced a challenge, should she go on to win the nomination, to get those independents who support Sanders but do not normally vote Democratic to turn out to vote for her in the general election. This will only make it harder. It is also foolish for Clinton to dwell on a single issue to make a bogus case of being more consistently liberal than Sanders when she has spent much of her career triangulating and undermining liberal principles.

Bernie Sanders responded to Clinton by bringing up just a small number of the many issues where Clinton has not been consistently liberal at the Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner. While he has mentioned some of these in the past, he was much more forceful in showing the differences between himself and Clinton, as I suggested he should do after the first debate. Sanders raised Clinton’s inconsistent views on trade, the Keystone XL Pipeline, campaign finance reform, the Iraq war, and gay rights. NBC News reported:

Without mentioning her by name, Sanders fired off a series of back-to-back jabs clearly aimed at the weakest parts of Clinton’s resume as he portrayed himself as the true progressive in the race who “will govern based on principle not poll numbers.”

His section of supporters roared at this key party event, which has a history of dislodging frontrunners — including Clinton in 2008 — in the state that holds the nation’s first nominating contest.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Clinton recently opposed, Sanders said he was there first.

“I did not support it yesterday. I do not support it today. And I will not support it tomorrow,” he said. “It is not now, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements.”

Clinton once called the TPP the “gold standard” of trade deals as she helped negotiate it as President Obama’s secretary of state.

On the Keystone XL pipeline, which Clinton seemed to favor as secretary of state but recently opposed, Sanders said he was there first too.

“If you agree with me about the urgent need to address the issue of climate change, then you would know immediately what to do about the Keystone pipeline. Honestly, it wasn’t that complicated,” he said. “To me, that was a no-brainer and that is why I have opposed the Keystone Pipeline from the beginning.”

On the Iraq War vote, where Clinton now says her “yes” vote was a mistake, Sanders said he was there first as well. “Let me tell you that I listened to what Bush had to say, to what Cheney had to say, to what Rumsfeld had to say. I didn’t believe them and I voted no,” he said.

And on the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law signed by Bill Clinton that banned the federal government from recognizing gay marriages — which Hillary Clinton now opposes — Sanders said he was there first once again.

“Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse. Let us be clear. That’s just not true,” he said. “There was a small minority opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters. Not everybody held that position in 1996.”

Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Friday that her husband supported DOMA as a “defensive action,” since something worse would have been passed in its stead.

On every issue, Sanders said he faced a “fork in the road.”

“I am proud to tell you when I came to that fork in the road I took the right road even though it was not the popular road at the time,” he said.

And one of his biggest applause lines, ostensibly on campaign finance, was also a veiled shot at Clinton. “I am the only Democratic candidate for president who does not have a Super PAC and we are going to prove them wrong,” he said. Clinton has two super PACs.

Sanders sought to position himself as the rightful heir to Obama, who stunned observers at this very event in 2007 by delivering an inspiring speech that drew clear contrasts with Clinton.

“Eight years ago the experts talked about how another Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama, couldn’t win. How he was unelectable. Well Iowa, I think we’re going to prove the pundits wrong again. I believe we will make history,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

In order to prove the pundits wrong, make history, and to win, Bernie Sanders will need to continue to draw a contrast between himself and Hillary Clinton on the issues, showing Democratic voters that he, and not Clinton, better represents Democratic values. Of course the Democratic Party is a big tent and Clinton’s generally center-right positions will appeal to many of those who vote in Democratic primaries. To win Sanders will also need to turn the independent support he is achieving into primary votes.

Many of  his supporters are young voters who do not traditionally turn out in hight numbers. Sanders just might change this with positions which attract the young, including  his more left-libertarian views on social/cultural issues, including legalization of marijuana, along with his proposal to make public college education free. His support for expanding Social Security also represents a policy difference with Hillary Clinton which could help Sanders make inroads at the other end of the age range.

Sanders repeated his criticism of Clinton on CNN Sunday Morning, this time mentioning Clinton by name:

“I have consistently been a critic of what is going on on Wall Street, the greed, the recklessness, the illegal behavior. I helped lead the effort to — against the deregulation of Wall Street. I believe that we should bring back Glass-Steagall legislation so that you do not have the absurd situation of commercial banks and investment banks and large insurance companies being together,” Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“You do not have six financial institutions having assets equivalent to 60 percent of the GDP,” he continued. “With all the economic and political power that these banks have, I think you’ve got to break them up. That has always — that has been my view for a very, very long time. That is not Hillary Clinton’s view.”

ABC News began their report of the Jefferson-Jackson dinner which an example which seems to represent the philosophical difference between Clinton and Sanders supporters:

On one half of the space, the Clinton fans looked organized and polished. They wore matching, glow-in-the-dark, blue t-shirts that read, “I’m fighting for her.” They held battery-operated foam lights that shone brightly when the lights dimmed and doubled as noise-makers.

Sanders’ fans had glow sticks, too, the kind that glow after being snapped. While many of his fans wore Bernie 2016 t-shirts, they were mismatched and different colors. His section also included several homemade signs.

I think this says a lot about the types of people who support Sanders as opposed to Clinton. Most importantly, Democratic voters need to keep in mind that, to paraphrase Sanders, when there has been a fork in the road on policy, throughout their careers Sanders has taken the right fork while Clinton has made the wrong decision. We need a president who makes the right choices at the time, not one who will admit her mistakes and change her views years down the road.

Update: Video posted here.

Update II: Press & Bloggers Show Sanders Was Right In Accusing Clinton Of Practicing Revisionist History On DOMA

Joe Biden Announces He Is Not Running, While Continuing To Criticize Hillary Clinton And Having Praised Bernie Sanders

Joe Biden has announced he will not run for president, saying he no longer has the time to mount a campaign, and then proceeded to give what sounded like his campaign speech. I wonder if he wrote this speech before deciding, figuring he could use most of it regardless of his decision.

It is notable that he continued to take a few jabs at Hillary Clinton, as he has in recent days. The New York Times reports:

Without mentioning her by name, Mr. Biden criticized Mrs. Clinton’s assertion in last week’s Democratic debate that the Republicans are her enemies. “They are our opposition; they’re not our enemies,” he said, repeating a point he has made several times in the last 48 hours. “And for the sake of the country, we have to work together.”

Reading from a prepared text flashed on flat screens in the Rose Garden, Mr. Biden argued against the sort of hawkish interventionism Mrs. Clinton has championed in the Middle East and elsewhere. “The argument that we just have to do something when bad people do bad things isn’t good enough,” he said. “It’s not a good enough reason for American intervention and to put our sons’ and daughters’ lives on the line, put them at risk.”

Mr. Biden seemed to chide Mrs. Clinton for distancing herself from Mr. Obama lately, as she has done on trade, Syria, Arctic drilling and other issues. “Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on the record,” he said.

While Biden declined to run in the primaries, it was clear he would like to have run if the situation were different, and he would like to be president. By criticizing Clinton and speaking like a candidate, Biden made it clear that if Clinton’s campaign should implode, which remains quite possible, he is ready to serve. With multiple investigations in progress regarding Clinton’s unethical behavior as Secretary of State, it is certainly a possibility that Democrats will wake up before the convention and realize how dangerous it could be running with her heading the ticket in the general election. If Sanders is unable to defeat her, it is easy to see the math play out where the Sanders delegates and the super delegates could outnumber committed Clinton delegates and create an open convention. If the news were bad enough, it is even conceivable that some of Clinton’s delegates would rethink their support.

Unfortunately the Democrats should probably change their symbol to the ostrich instead of the donkey as, other than for Sanders (until recently an independent), they seem oblivious to the trouble the party is in nation-wide. They might also take a few lessons from Justin Trudeau, as John Nichols discussed in The Nation.

Most likely Biden continued to express his reservations about Clinton in order to influence her behavior and to keep himself in a position to be the nominee if conditions change. There is another thought which also comes to mind. Is it possible that Biden does prefer Sanders? Biden would clearly support Sanders over Clinton in terms of ethical character of the candidate, but even the types of issues which Biden discussed sounded far more like Sanders than Clinton. (There are also certainly positions which Biden has taken in the past which are quite different, but today does not seem the day to discuss the negatives in Biden’s record.) While Biden has repeatedly criticized Clinton in recent weeks, he has also praised Bernie Sanders, saying, “he’s doing a helluva job.”

Seeing Biden continue to criticize Clinton today raises the question of whether he will continue to knock Clinton, hoping to increase the chances of her being forced from the race. Plus if he does prefer Sanders, would he ever openly support him over Clinton?

I don’t think it is very likely Biden would openly endorse Sanders, but if he did it would be a move comparable to when Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. Both Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in 2008, citing the same types of faults we continue to see in Hillary Clinton. Such a move from Biden, this time endorsing Sanders, would provide a tremendous boost to Sanders’ campaign.

For now, the same media which has downplayed Sanders prospects from the start will promote the idea that Clinton is the inevitable winner. We must keep in mind that such media predictions have frequently been wrong in the past. While there is no doubt Clinton is the front runner, her nomination cannot be said to be inevitable months before a single vote has been cast. As I noted earlier in the week, the polls are not at all predictive in a nomination battle.This polling report from December 2007 described how Clinton had a huge lead over Obama. In December 2003, Howard Dean was pulling away in the polls. Eventual winner John Kerry was in sixth place with only 4 percent, even trailing Al Sharpton.

This race is far from over. While the media is dwelling on the Benghazi hearings this week, and this could have a bearing at how she is perceived, the real scandals which will harm Clinton in an election campaign are not based upon this Republican witch hunt, and are not going to go away. Bernie Sanders could pull an upset, like Obama in 2008 or Kerry in 2004, or the party might yet still call on Joe Biden.

Biden Drop Out

Webb Dropping Out And Considering Futile Independent Bid

Jim Webb has dropped out of the race, leaving the question open as to whether he will run as an independent. He acknowledged that his views “on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and the nominating base of the Democratic Party.” As to whether he will continue to think of himself as a Democrat, he said, “We’ll think about that.”

Webb might see himself as having a chance as an independent, being ideologically between the Democrats and the far right wing Republican candidates, but the system makes it quite difficult for an independent to compete. If Webb thought he did not receive enough attention in last week’s Democratic debate, he will likely receive even less as an independent. The Democrats and Republicans will continue to shut independent candidates out of general election debates, despite fights from the Libertarian and Green parties.

Webb will also have to raise far more money than he has been able to raise so far, having new expenses such as achieving ballot access.Politco described how poor his fund raising has been:

Webb struggled to raise cash against his Democratic opponents and has reported taking in just under $697,000 in his recent filing statement with less than $317,000 on hand — less than Harvard law professor Larry Lessig, who did not qualify for last week’s debate in Las Vegas, an event where Webb felt he did not get enough time to speak. In the same period, Hillary Clinton raised nearly $30 million with $25.7 million on hand.

Sanders raised a comparable amount of money as Clinton in the last quarter, but was able to keep more of this as he did not spend money on lavish fund raisers. Only Lincoln Chafee has raised less.

If Webb is to have any impact as an independent candidate, most likely it would be to affect the outcome in close states. The best case scenario is that, if Virginia is close, he takes more support from the Republican candidate and enables the Democrats to win the state.

It remains unknown whether the number of Democratic candidates will remain the same after this week, with Joe Biden appearing to be planning to announce his candidacy but no official word as to this. The Washington Post inadvertently put out a story  stating that Biden was running and had to retract it.

Update: The answer to this came on Wednesday with Joe Biden announcing he is not running. More on this later.

Bernie Sanders Again Shows That The Pundits Are Wrong–Improving In The Polls After First Debate

CNN Debate Sanders Clinton

The pundits who have been downplaying Bernie Sanders’ campaign form the start declared that Hillary Clinton was the winner of the first Democratic debate, despite the focus groups who considered Sanders to be the winner. As usually occurs, polls showed that after the fact the majority went with the pundits as to the winner (with many probably not having seen the debate). However the pundits did not predict what has actually happened. Voters are telling pollsters that Clinton won, but an increasing number want Sanders to win the nomination.

CNN reports Hillary Clinton wins debate, but Bernie Sanders rises:

With the first Democratic debate in the books, a new CNN/ORC poll finds most who watched think Hillary Clinton had the best performance of the night, but her strong showing hasn’t boosted her standing in the race for the party’s nomination…

Compared with pre-debate polling, Sanders’ support is up five points since mid-September, but no other candidate showed significant change.

Gravis Marketing similarly found that a majority thought Clinton won the debate, but also that Sanders pulled within eight points of Clinton nationally–overall a favorable outcome for Sanders. Clinton is welcome to accumulate debate points if Sanders is picking up voters.

One item of concern was that the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll did show Clinton pulling even with Sanders in New Hampshire, but now the Franklin Pierce-Herald poll shows Sanders maintaining his lead:

Sanders holds a 38-30 percent lead over Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary state, while Biden draws 19 percent in the poll of 403 likely Democratic primary voters conducted immediately after last week’s debate.

Sanders’ 8-point lead is essentially unchanged from the 44-37 percent advantage the Vermont senator held in a stunning Franklin Pierce-Herald poll in August — the first to show the former Secretary of State behind in New Hampshire.

The new poll also has Sanders holding an even bigger 10-point lead over Clinton if Biden isn’t in the presidential field.

The results suggest Clinton will have a tough time overcoming the deficit, as more than half of notoriously finicky Granite State voters now say they have made up their minds.

Seven in 10 Sanders supporters say they’ve made a “firm choice” to vote for him, a 26 percent increase from the last Franklin Pierce-Herald poll in August. And 62 percent of Clinton backers now report they’re firmly in her column, compared to just 40 percent in August.

This does show that the pundits who claimed that Clinton was once again unbeatable after the first debate got it wrong. Beyond that, I wouldn’t believe any predictions that the polls today will accurately predict what will happen when people turn out to vote. If you need an example of that, check out this report  from December 2007 describing how Clinton has a huge lead over Obama. In December 2003, Howard Dean was pulling away in the polls. Eventual winner John Kerry was in sixth place with only 4 percent, even trailing Al Sharpton.

Polls in a primary battle mean very little, and a single debate will not decide the nomination. Nothing is even close to getting settled until people start to vote, and ignore those pundits who tell you otherwise. A lead in the national polls is especially meaningless as these often change dramatically afte the results of the first contests are known. Strong performances by Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire can totally redefine the race.

The pundits also said after the debate that Clinton’s performance meant that Joe Biden was not going to enter the race. That argument never made much sense. Biden had said his decision was based upon personal matters. Even if he was watching the debate to decide, a strong debate performance by Hillary Clinton would not suddenly erase Clinton’s major flaws and weaknesses. If she could beat the other candidates in the debate, that might even be seen by Biden as meaning there is room in the race for him to challenge her.

Despite all the predicti0ns from pundits that the debate would keep Joe Biden out, the headlines on Monday were full of predictions that Biden might be announcing that he is running imminently. Whether or not he runs, the debate did not settle the matter.

The pundits are probably right about one thing–Jim Webb has no chance at winning the Democratic nomination. Now there is speculation that he might be planning to run as an independent. If he does, I’m not sure if he will take more votes from Democrats or Republicans, and if he can pick up enough votes to matter. Maybe he has a shot at receiving some votes, however few, if he is seen as a rational Republican, in contrast to those who are currently running.

The Democratic Debate: Clinton Wins On Style And Gets Support Of Pundits; Sanders Wins On The Issues And Wins The Focus Groups

CNN Democratic Debate

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each entered the first Democratic debate with different goals, and both accomplished them. Clinton was more polished, with both more debating experience, and having prepared in a conventional manner. She was also better at evading questions she did not want to answer. She won the chattering class. The same journalists who have underestimated Sanders from the start, and have not taken his campaign seriously, say that Clinton won.

Sanders won on the issues, and did what he intended to enhance his campaign. Sanders won the focus groups. He gained 35,163 followers on Twitter, compared to 13,252 for Clinton. Although unscientific and of questionable meaning, he won the online polls by large margins. Alternet summarized:

Bernie Sanders by all objective measures won the debate. Hands down. I don’t say this as a personal analysis of the debate – the very idea of “winning” a debate is silly to me. I say this because based on the only objective metrics we have, online polls and focus groups, he did win.  And it’s not even close.

Sanders won the CNN focus group, the Fusion focus group, and the Fox News focus group – in the latter, he even converted several Hillary supporters. He won the Slate online poll, the CNN/Time online poll, 9News ColoradoThe Street online poll, Fox5 poll, the conservative Drudge online poll and the liberal Daily Kos online poll. There wasn’t, to this writer’s knowledge, a poll he didn’t win by at least an 18 point margin.  But you wouldn’t know this from reading the establishment press. The New York Times, The New Yorker, CNN, Politico, Slate, New York Magazine, and Vox all of which unanimously say Hillary Clinton cleaned house.

Sanders went into the debate with an unconventional preparation as I discussed last week. Sanders did not go into the debate memorizing zingers or planning to try to take down Hillary Clinton. He used the debate to get access to potential voters who were not aware of him, and succeeded. This is also seen in the number of Google searches for him. To some degree this could be the novelty factor, from people who already knew about Clinton but not Sanders, but the large number of people expressing interest is bound to translate into some new supporters.

While Clinton did receive far more favorable reviews from the mainstream media, there are exceptions. Philip Bump at The Washington Post did point out how Sanders was the candidate breaking through. The Chicago Tribune considered Sanders to be the winner. Russell Berman at The Atlantic  argued that Sanders might receive a bigger bounce from the debate than Clinton. As might be expected, many blogs on the left also felt that Sanders won the debate.

With his lack of conventional debate preparation, there were areas in which Sanders could have explained himself better, along with other points where Sanders clearly won on the issues.  He should have been  prepared for a question based upon the recent Meet the Press interview. I recently discussed why the Democratic Socialist label is not hurting Bernie Sanders. Despite the labels he prefers, Sanders seeks to reform capitalism, not eliminate it. It is notable that he did point out his support for small and medium sized business:

SANDERS: I think everybody is in agreement that we are a great entrepreneurial nation. We have got to encourage that. Of course, we have to support small and medium-sized businesses.

But you can have all of the growth that you want and it doesn’t mean anything if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. So what we need to do is support small and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of our economy, but we have to make sure that every family in this country gets a fair shake…

Sanders could have also done a better job on guns, but he did note his D- lifetime rating from the NRA (with Sanders also receiving an F at  least once).

Let’s begin, Anderson, by understanding that Bernie Sanders has a D-minus voting rating (ph) from the NRA. Let’s also understand that back in 1988 when I first ran for the United States Congress, way back then, I told the gun owners of the state of Vermont and I told the people of the state of Vermont, a state which has virtually no gun control, that I supported a ban on assault weapons. And over the years, I have strongly avoided instant background checks, doing away with this terrible gun show loophole. And I think we’ve got to move aggressively at the federal level in dealing with the straw man purchasers.

Also I believe, and I’ve fought for, to understand that there are thousands of people in this country today who are suicidal, who are homicidal, but can’t get the healthcare that they need, the mental healthcare, because they don’t have insurance or they’re too poor. I believe that everybody in this country who has a mental crisis has got to get mental health counseling immediately

While some Democrats will attack his record, I believe that Sanders’ approach of considering both the need for gun control and the rights of hunters to be a stronger position for a general election. Sanders would also be in a stronger position than Clinton to bring both sides to the table to work on sensible gun legislation.

Sanders was more prepared for the questions about Black Lives Matter. Note that Sanders repeated the phrase, but Clinton did not. Sanders wins a point over Clinton in his support for expanding Social Security. In contrast to the Republicans, it was good to see a political party which faced reality on climate change, but there are also aspects of Clinton’s environmental record which could have been challenged.

Sanders was right in arguing that war should only be considered as a last resort. Clinton was unable to defend her mistakes on Libya or Syria, but her opponents could also have done a better job of criticizing her on these. Perhaps it would have been different if Joe Biden was there, considering how he spent four years opposing Clinton’s hawkish views. Sanders was also far better than Clinton when discussing civil liberties, including his opposition to NSA surveillance, and marijuana laws, including opposition to the drug war. Despite calling himself a Democratic Socialist, in many ways Sanders is the most libertarian candidate running from either party (at least for us left-libertarians who concentrate on civil liberties as opposed to greater freedom for giant corporations).

Clinton was right in saying that the economy does better when a Democrat is in office. It was clear that any of the participants in last night’s debate would have been better than the Republicans running. She was knocked for her flip-flopping on the issues. Factcheck.org exposed her for trying to throw her previous statements on TPP down the memory hole:

Clinton revised her earlier position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries, claiming that she merely said she “hoped” it would be a “gold standard.” But her earlier support was more unequivocal.

The topic arose when debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked Clinton if some of her recent position changes were tied to political expediency, and he specifically referenced Clinton’s recent decision to oppose the TPP.

“You supported his trade deal dozens of times. You even called it the ‘gold standard.’ Now, suddenly, last week, you’re against it,” Cooper said. “Will you say anything to get elected?”

Clinton said that over the course of her career, her values and principles have remained consistent, though some positions have evolved as she “absorb[s] new information.”

“You know, take the trade deal,” Clinton said. “I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans. And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, ‘this will help raise your wages.’ And I concluded I could not.”

But Clinton didn’t add the “hoped it would be” qualifier when she made the initial comment about the TPP in 2012.

“This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field,” Clinton remarked in Adelaide, Australia, on Nov. 15, 2012. “And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.”

Two days later, in Singapore, Clinton again sang the praises of the TPP.

“The so-called TPP will lower barriers, raise standards, and drive long-term growth across the region,” Clinton said. “It will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and establish strong protections for workers and the environment. Better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers and others too often in the past excluded from the formal economy will help build Asia’s middle class and rebalance the global economy.”

The same article also noted that Clinton has repeated some of the same lies she told in the past about the email scandal which have been debunked in the past by fact checkers,

When asked about her unusual email arrangement as secretary of state, Clinton said, “What I did was allowed by the State Department.” That’s not the full story.

Clinton conducted government business exclusively using a personal email account (hdr22@clintonemail.com), and those emails were stored on a private server.

As we have written before, the State Department and the Clinton campaign have cited a National Archives and Records Administration rule issued in 2009 that said federal agencies that allow the use of personal emails must preserve them “in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” So personal emails were allowed.

But federal rules also required Clinton to preserve her work emails “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary.” She did not turn over copies of her emails to the State Department until Dec. 5, 2014 — nearly two years after she left office on Feb. 1, 2013.

Also, whether the State Department allowed it or not, Clinton’s decision “to conduct all e-mail correspondence through a private e-mail network, using a non-.gov address, is inconsistent with long-established policies and practices under the Federal Records Act and NARA regulations governing all federal agencies,” according to congressional testimony of Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives, who is now a lawyer at Drinker Biddle.

Sanders’ biggest error was to present statistics for underemployment when making statements about unemployment, and got the ranking of the United States in income inequality wrong.

Sanders did provide an unexpected lifeline to Clinton when the email scandal came up, objecting to discussing this instead of the issues. It makes sense that he would not want to include this in his campaign, especially at a Democratic debate in front of partisan Democrats invited by the DNC. Besides, if Sanders had his way, he would talk about nothing other than income inequality and related economic matters throughout the debate, and the campaign. It is also unnecessary for Sanders to discuss this when there are still around thirty-six FOIA suits in progress along with the Justice Department investigation. If this was a debate in the general election, the Republicans could have raised a lot of valid points against Clinton, and this time would not have had to make things up as with Benghazi. As The Washington Post noted, the email scandal is not a problem which is going away. Sanders can sit back and let it all play out.

While both Clinton and Sanders could claim victories in this debate, the night did not go as well for the other candidates. I thought Martin O’Malley often did a fine job, including setting Clinton straight on economic policy at one point, but so far there are no signs he is receiving credit for this.  He has shown he could make a fine cabinet member, but it is hard to see him becoming a viable candidate for the nomination this year.

I give Lincoln Chafee credit for taking on Clinton over both her support for the Iraq war and over ethics. While he has no chance at becoming president, probably not now or ever, I do hope he remains around in politics, and perhaps in the next administration, to provide a conscience. Unfortunately he will be most remembered for being unprepared for his first vote as a Senator. Jim Webb blew any chance of using this debate to improve his campaign, and probably will only be remembered for having said he killed somebody.

Donald Trump also tried to get in on the action by live-blogging the debate, but he seemed totally over his head when issues came up. Once again, the Democrats showed they were far superior to the Republican candidates.