Debunking the Ralph Nader Scare Tactics For Supporting The Lesser Evil

Trump Clinton Illusion Free Choice

Many of us have principles and will not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Many Clinton supporters have shown no understanding of the basic democratic principle that we have the right to support or not support whichever candidates we choose. They make bogus claims that not voting for Hillary is a vote for Trump. If true, the opposite would also have to be true–our decision to not vote for Trump by their logic would be a vote for Hillary.

Clinton supporters raise Ralph Nader and the 2000 election, but this is wrong for so many reasons:

This assumes that the Democrats are entitled to our vote, and that if there weren’t third party candidates running, those on the left would automatically vote for the Democrat. Wrong. Many would stay home, or leave the presidential spot empty, if there was no other choice.

Most of us do not live in battleground states, leaving us free to vote our convictions without affecting the outcome. Plus Clinton is pulling away in the battleground states and Nate Silver reassures us that Clinton will win anyways. Considering what an inept campaign Trump has waged since clinching the nomination, he is probably right (although Quinnipiac does show them deadlocked).

Hillary Clinton is not Al Gore. She is far closer to George Bush. We were outraged by Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy, but Clinton is the neocon hawk running this year. We protested Bush’s assault on civil liberties, but Clinton also has a far right record on civil liberties issues, sounding much like Donald Trump on restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism. We objected to an increase in government secrecy under Bush, but Clinton has a long record of opposing government transparency. Bush’s administration was remarkable for expanding the influence of the religious right.  Clinton worked with The Fellowship to expand the influence of religion on public policy when in the Senate. Plus Clinton has been on the wrong side regarding the corrupting role of money in politics, on the environment and climate change, on the death penalty, on single-payer health care. She is even to the right of Donald Trump on drug policy and the drug war and on the wrong side of trade issues.

If you think having George Bush elected in 2000 was a terrible thing (and it was), it makes no sense to argue that Hillary Clinton should be president when she supports so much of what made Bush such a terrible president.

If anything, Nader has been proven right by the Democrats nominating a corrupt warmonger such as Clinton. This clearly shows the dangers of “lesser evilism.”

When does the “lesser evilism” stop? We are warned about what happened when Bush beat Gore and told me must support Clinton because of Trump, but Clinton has supported most of the evil done by Bush. Next election will the Democrats nominate someone like Trump and will we be told we must support him if the Republicans nominate someone even more evil?

Some Clinton supporters have been rather bad winners, attacking those who disagree with them on social media for expressing our opinions. Life is more than a binary choice between the limited options provided by the major parties. It even might be argued that a function of the major parties is to limit debate to the limited issues where their candidates disagree.

In reality, Clinton and Trump are both in the authoritarian right segment of the political spectrum, not differing by as much as supporters of either would admit. Those of us who hold opposing views are going to continue to express our views on the issue, regardless of whether we have a presidential candidate who is likely to win. We will continue to oppose oligarchy, neoconservative military interventionism, restrictions on civil liberties to supposedly fight terrorism, the corrupting role of money in politics, destruction of the environment for profit, and an increased role of religion in public policy–even if the Democratic nominee is on the wrong side of each of these issues.

Warnings For Democrats If Clinton Is Nominee

Sanders Clinton

Bernie Sanders has an op-ed in The New York Times warning that Democrats Need to Wake Up after the Brexit vote in Great Britain:

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, and not a handful of billionaires.

As an aside, if Sanders is going to lecture the Democrats on policiy, I’d also mention the argument in Truthout that “the Sanders “Revolution” Must Take on the Permanent War State.”

Of course Sanders prefers to deal with the economic issues and, despite the importance of responding the warfare state, economics and trade will probably have more of an impact in this year’s election, possibly hurting the Democrats. As Matthew Yglasias warns, “Clinton is personally and politically tied to Bill Clinton’s administration in the 1990s and to Barack Obama’s administration more recently, both of which sought to advance a free trade agenda.” He points out that one problem Clinton has is that nobody believes her:

Clinton’s problem: Does anyone believe this?

The problem with Clinton’s preferred line of attack is it fails to pass the basic “does anyone actually believe this?” test.

The stated reasons for Clinton’s opposition to the TPP didn’t make any sense and were immediately panned by observers such as Vox editor in chief Ezra Klein as smacking of opportunism. Having come out against it, Clinton will in all likelihood follow through and scuttle the agreement.

There’s no question that her position is based upon opportunism. It is far from certain that she will actually scuttle the agreement if elected.

While things can change between now and November, and neither major party nominee is yet official, Clinton has a considerable advantage over Trump. Trump already is far behind Clinton in organization, fund raising and, most importantly, public support. Plus Clinton starts out with the Democratic edge in the electoral college She will probably win if scandals and legal action don’t stop her. Democrats should be concerned.

With the most recent revelations (here and here), Chris Cillizza writes that, Hillary Clinton’s email story continues to get harder and harder to believe.

The latest batch of emails suggest that Clinton’s filter to decide between the personal and the professional was far from foolproof. That these emails never saw the light of day before Monday — or before a conservative legal advocacy group petitioned for their release — opens up the possibility that there are plenty more like them that Clinton chose to delete but shouldn’t have. And it provides more fodder for the Republican argument that Clinton appointing herself as judge, jury and executioner for her emails was, at best, a very, very bad decision and, at worst, something more nefarious than just bad judgment.

…this email to Abedin — which came at the start of her four-year term in office — suggests a bit more active agency than Clinton has previously let on. “I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want,” doesn’t strike me as Clinton simply wanting convenience and following the instructions of her IT people on how to make that happen. It reads to me as though Clinton is both far more aware of the email setup and far more engaged in how it should look than she generally lets on publicly…

For a candidate already struggling to convince voters she is honest and trustworthy enough to be president, stories like this one are deeply problematic.

While I generally agree with his assessment, I would also point out in response to the title that Clinton’s story was already quite obviously a bunch of lies from the time of her first response to the scandal.

Even if Clinton can sustain her rather impressive lead over Trump, this does not mean everything is fine for he Democrats.  Taegan Goddard warns that Clinton Is a Drag on Congressional Candidates:

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal confirms what we observed earlier this month: Despite the tremendous unpopularity of Donald Trump and of congressional Republicans, there doesn’t appear to be a wave forming which would give Democrats a chance to take control of the House.

The generic congressional ballot actually shows voters deadlocked over which party they would prefer to control Congress, 46% to 46%. The RealClearPolitics average shows Democrats ahead by just one point on the generic ballot.

This indicates the problem for Democrats goes beyond gerrymandered congressional districts and poor recruitment efforts. The problem is that Hillary Clinton is nearly as unpopular as Trump. While she may be favored in the presidential race, she’s also weighing down congressional candidates…

I wonder how many voters will split their ticket this year, having qualms about whichever candidate they vote for in the presidential race. Many might want to see the other party control Congress to place checks on the president. Far more might vote against this year’s winner in two years.

Bernie Sanders has continued his campaign based upon the argument that he does better than Clinton in the head to head polls against Trump. As Clinton has an excellent chance of winning despite her narrower margin, Sanders might have a stronger argument that having him head the ticket would be better for all the down ticket candidates. Sanders can expand the Democratic Party, while Clinton could do long term damage to it.

Never Hillary: Bloomberg Poll Shows Nearly Half Of Sanders Supporters Won’t Support Clinton

Never Hillary

I have seen estimates and polls with a wide range of numbers as to how many of those of us who voted for Sanders will vote for Clinton. The latest is a poll from Bloomberg which shows that only 55 percent will vote for Clinton:

June 14th Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters in November’s election found that barely half of those who favored Sanders — 55 percent — plan to vote for Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, while 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson. “I’m a registered Democrat, but I cannot bring myself to vote for another establishment politician like Hillary,” says Laura Armes, a 43-year-old homemaker from Beeville, Texas, who participated in the Bloomberg poll and plans to vote for Trump. “I don’t agree with a lot of what Trump says. But he won’t owe anybody. What you see is what you get.”

Conversations with two dozen Sanders supporters revealed a lingering distrust of Clinton as too establishment-friendly, hawkish or untrustworthy. As some Sanders fans see it, the primary was not a simple preference for purity over pragmatism, but a moral choice between an honest figure and someone whom they consider fundamentally corrupted by the ways of Washington. Sanders has fed these perceptions throughout his campaign, which is one reason he’s having a hard time coming around to an endorsement.

Voters like Armes, who says she’ll “definitely” vote in November, highlight the difficulty Clinton faces in unifying her party. Clinton’s paltry support among Sanders voters could still grow, as his disheartened fans process the hard-fought primary campaign. But the Bloomberg poll found that only 5 percent of Sanders supporters who don’t currently back Clinton would consider doing so in the future.

Eric Brooks, 52, a community organizer in San Francisco, won’t be among them. “I will absolutely never vote for Clinton,” says Brooks, a Sanders supporter who participated in the Bloomberg poll. Although Brooks indicated in the poll that he’ll support Johnson, that is not his intention. “I’d be okay voting for Johnson as a protest vote,” says Brooks. “But as a Green Party member, I’m going to vote for [Green Party candidate] Jill Stein. If you care about the climate, like I do, it makes a lot of sense strategically to vote for Stein, because she could get five percent, which has implications for the Green Party getting federal funding.”

One flaw is that the poll didn’t include presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who was mentioned by one of those interviewed.  Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is left as the third party alternative. As Hit and Run points out, “Read any profile of the Libertarian nominee, and chances are you’ll get to a part where he points out that the ISideWith site says Sanders is the rival candidate he agrees with the most.” While there is tremendous overlap between Sanders and Johnson on social and foreign policy, Stein would be closer on economic policy.

It is not surprising at this point that about half of Sanders supporters are more reluctant to consider voting for Clinton. Most likely the majority of those who typically vote Democratic will wind up voting for Clinton, even if they have to hold their nose. Sanders supporters who voted in Democratic primaries this year but don’t typically vote Democratic will be less likely to stick with the party. Plus it is an oversimplification to call everyone who opposes Clinton a Sanders supporter as if this is the only thing which defines us. I voted for Sanders this year for the same reasons I voted for Obama against Clinton eight years ago–and these are essentially the same reasons I opposed George Bush.

There is little doubt that some of those who now say they will not vote for Clinton will change their minds before the election, but those who have not voted Democratic in the past are far less likely to. There is a much larger ideological gap between many Sanders supporters and Clinton than is normally seen in a nomination battle. Nominating Clinton as opposed to Sanders is a monumental loss to the Democratic Party long term as they lose the opportunity to bring in many independent and younger voters.

There is the possibility that it might not matter short term. While Clinton will have problems with more liberal and many independent voters, she does benefit from running against Donald Trump, who so far has run a rather inept general election  campaign. Plus Clinton could make up for the loss of these voters by bringing in more Republican votes. As long as a Republican doesn’t consider abortion a litmus test, and isn’t a tea party extremist, a neoconservative DLC Democrat such as Clinton is rather close to traditional Republican beliefs.

If Trump continues to self-destruct as he has the past couple of weeks, Hillary Clinton could very well be come the top choice of Republicans. Just today, Brent Scowcroft former adviser to both Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush endorsed Clinton. This follows the recent endorsement from Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush. Other neoconservatives, such as Robert Kagan, had previously supported Clinton, not finding Trump to be hawkish enough for their tastes.

Of course, while Clinton very well could defeat Trump without support from the left, we have to wonder what type of Democratic Party we will be left with, especially considering how far right the Clintons moved the party the last time they were in control. As pointed out at Salon last week, the side effect of Clinton’s nomination has been to transform Democrats into “new” Republicans.

Americans Really Dislike The Presumptive Major Party Candidates–2016 Might Be The Time To End The Democrat/Republican Duopoly

CLINTON-FAVORABILITY

TRUMP-FAVORABILITY

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll confirms what we already knew–Americans are unhappy with the thought of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being the major party nominees. Trump is doing the worse, which is no surprise considering that he continued his racist rants after becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, with his statements on policy also remaining incoherent. In a binary political race, we would expect that if one candidate becomes less popular, their opponent would become more popular. Instead, Hillary Clinton’s favorability also continues to decline:

Seven in 10 Americans see Donald Trump unfavorably in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, up 10 points in just the past month to a new high since he announced his candidacy for president. But Hillary Clinton reached a new high for unfavorability as well, 55 percent.

The results mark the striking challenges facing both candidates, cementing their position as the two most unpopular presumptive major party nominees for president in ABC News/Washington Post polling dating to 1984.

While unlikely, it is not too late for either party to choose a more suitable candidate now that we have seen how badly the primary process has failed. There has been speculation that the Republicans might write convention rules to allow this. With the party leaders opposing Trump, and many of Trump’s delegates not personally in favor of Trump, it is possible that a majority would support rules which eliminate bound delegates and allow all to vote as they choose. Another possibility could be to require a super-majority on the first ballot and leave delegates free to vote as they choose on subsequent ballots. The Republicans face two major problems if they try this–the wrath of those who really do support Trump, and the lack of a clear replacement.

The Democratic Party is less likely to change their nominee unless forced to by outside forces (such as an indictment of Hillary Clinton). After all, Clinton is supported by the party establishment, and party rules are written to promote a conservative Democrat such as Clinton over an insurgent candidate such as Sanders. While they are unlikely to dump Clinton at the convention, there are many strong reasons to do so. As Sophia McClennen has pointed out, Clinton, with both her policies and tactics, is transforming the Democratic Party into another version of the Republicans. Dave Chandler has made an excellent list of  reasons why Hillary Clinton is not fit to be president.

While Clinton now has taken a lead over Trump in the traditional presidential polls, Rasmussen found that more people would rather go out for a beer with Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. Even ignoring the pro-Republican house effect at Rasmussen, I’m not surprised. Trump probably would be more entertaining to go out drinking with, but there are limits as to how much of him people can take. Near equal numbers of people would have either candidate over for dinner.

Johnson Stein

With the nominees of both parties being so incredibly awful, this might be the year to try to break the monopoly the major political parties have held since Abraham Lincoln was elected president as a third party candidate. With cynicism about the corrupt political system reaching a boiling point, as described by Connor Lynch, more voters might be willing to look at alternatives. Young voters, who are not tied to either political party, are probably the most willing to consider third party candidates. The International Business Times questions whether young Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton, and how many might vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. A few of us older voters are thinking the same way:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know that young people love Sanders. Here’s exactly how much: During the primary season, more than 70 percent of Democratic voters under 30 supported the Vermont senator, Vox reported earlier this month. Individual states’ numbers are even more impressive. In Illinois, 86 percent of young voters chose him over Clinton, an Illinois native. In Ohio, 81 percent did, according to U.S. News and World Report

For Sanders supporters who have decried Clinton as a warmonger, stooge of Wall Street and corrupt career politician, that means it’s time to either fall in line with most Democrats or look elsewhere…

“What happens is people forget in the fall,” Williamson said. “Democrats vote for the Democrats and Republicans vote for the Republicans.”

But anecdotal evidence suggests that might not prove true for the millennial generation, half of which identifies as independent and thousands of whom are first-time voters who don’t have strong party loyalty. In the YouGov poll, 32 percent of Sanders supporters under 30 said they’d choose a third-party option if the senator didn’t make the ballot…

History has proven that young people’s votes matter: In 2012, for example, at least 80 electoral votes were dependent upon voters under 30, according to Circle data. Without the youth vote, the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which supported Obama that year, would have gone red. Mitt Romney could have become president.

Clinton very well might still win due to fear of a Trump presidency, and there are huge obstacles for a third party candidate. The record unpopularity of the major party candidates, the growing number of independent voters, and the impact of the internet on both fund raising and growing support, make the chances better than ever before. Having the right candidate is essential, and many Sanders supporters are now  hoping that Sanders will continue his campaign until November, with the goal to try win and not just be a Nader-style spoiler.

The Democratic Culture of Corruption–71% Of Democrats Believe Clinton Should Keep Running Even If Indicted

Clinton Prison number

It has been clear for a while that a majority of Democrats will back Hillary Clinton no matter what she does. If they can accept a militaristic neocon who is far right on civil liberties and spent her time in the Senate working with the religious right, they would probably continue to support her if she was filmed bar-b-quing puppies. While we don’t have hard data to confirm this, we now have data to show that a majority of Democrats think she should continue to run even if indicted. While the source is sometimes questionable, I doubt that the house bias for Republicans affects much in this Rasmussen poll:

Most continue to believe likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a lawbreaker, but half of all voters also say a felony indictment shouldn’t stop her campaign for the presidency.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think Clinton should immediately stop campaigning if she is charged with a felony in connection with her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of State. Fifty percent (50%), however, think she should continue running until a court determines her guilt or innocence. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Voters were evenly divided on this question in January, but at that time we didn’t include the name of any candidate.

Among Democratic voters, 71% believe Clinton should keep running, a view shared by only 30% of Republicans and 46% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

Forty percent (40%) of all voters say they are less likely to vote for Clinton because of the e-mail issue, while nearly half (48%) say it will have no impact on their vote. Just eight percent (8%) say the issue makes them more likely to vote for the former first lady.

Sixty-five percent (65%) consider it likely that Clinton broke the law by sending and receiving e-mails containing classified information through a private e-mail server while serving as secretary of State. This includes 47% who say it’s Very Likely. These findings are unchanged from January. Thirty percent (30%) still say Clinton is unlikely to have broken the law with the e-mail arrangement, with 16% who say it’s Not At All Likely.

To repeat, seventy-one percent of Democrats don’t even think that an indictment would be enough of a reason for Hillary Clinton to leave the race. Remember when Democrats used to complain about the Republican culture of corruption?

While there has been evidence of Clinton’s violation of the laws in effect as of 2009 for quite a while, the recent State Department Inspector General report verified this and demolished Clinton’s claims of the past year. The report showed how she knowingly violated the Federal Records Act, attempted to hide these violations, and failed to cooperate with the investigation. Clinton also used her private email to avoid compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, with several court cases regarding this in progress. The FBI continues to investigate her mishandling of classified information.

While people lower down have been prosecuted for far less than what Clinton has done with regards to classified information, many (including myself) believe that she will not be prosecuted. Rasmussen previously found that only 25 percent believe Clinton will be indicted. As a majority consider her to be guilty, this is a measure of distrust in the system as opposed to any belief that Clinton is innocent. The IG report might increase the chances of prosecution due to showing her unprecedented actions in exclusively using a private email system did represent an intentional violation of the rules.

Clinton’s actions at best represent a serious violation of rules designed to promote government transparency, as well as to maintain the historical record, showing Clinton to have been dishonest in her accounts of the scandal for the past year. At worst, Clinton might have been trying to hide evidence of  influence peddling at the State Department and might have jeopardized the secrecy of classified information. While it might not matter against an opponent as weak as Donald Trump, it is unprecedented, and possibly foolhardy, for a major party to nominate a candidate who is involved in such a major scandal. The fact that Clinton’s supporters don’t even care is a further disappointment, even if not unexpected. I imagine that they wouldn’t care if Clinton were to ride out the election, and then pardon herself if elected.

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.

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

Clinton Email Cartoon Deleted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox Poll May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Independent Candidate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

live-free-or-die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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