Office of the Director of National Intelligence Casts Further Doubt On Theories Blaming Clinton Loss On Russia

While many Clinton supporters are already making unsubstantiated claims of a conspiracy between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to rig the presidential election for Trump to excuse Clinton’s loss, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has joined those which are questioning this view. Reuters reports:

The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday.

While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named.

The position of the ODNI, which oversees the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as “ridiculous” in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks.

Of course this does not mean that Donald Trump is right either in opposing an investigation. There is no proof of the conspiracy accusations, but there is good reason for a full investigation to determine exactly what did happen.

At this point there are arguments both that the Russians were or were not involved in the hacking of the email later released by Wikileaks. The FBI had previously reported that they found no clear link between Donald Trump and Russia. For whatever it is worth, Julian Assange has also denied that Russia fed the leaked email to Wikileaks.

Regardless of who was responsible, it now appears that the DNC became susceptible to the hack due to a typo in an email exchange between Clinton campaign aides.

Despite contradictory information, it has become the conventional wisdom that Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC–much like it was once conventional wisdom that Saddam was hoarding weapons of mass destruction. Even if it should be demonstrated Russia was involved in the hack, this does not demonstrate either what their actual intent was or prove any involvement by the Trump campaign.

It must also be kept in mind that spying on other governments, and even tampering in elections, are commonplace activities conducted by many governments, including the United States. Hillary Clinton has a history of supporting meddling in past Russian and Palestinian elections, not to mention backing outright regime change in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

It is also possible that Russia wanted to prevent Clinton from being elected, or possibly just embarrass her, as opposed to specifically backing Trump, with Donald Trump then benefiting from this desire. Reasons for this include Clinton’s desire for a return to a Cold War atmosphere with Russia, the support for regime change in Russia among many of Clinton’s neoconservative allies, and because of Clinton’s past acts to try to rig the Russian election against Putin. The later view is supported by a former ambassador to Russia:

Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, said he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to help Donald Trump win the presidency to hurt Clinton.

“Let’s remember that Vladimir Putin thinks [Clinton] interfered in his election — the parliamentary election in December 2011 — and has said as much publicly, and I’ve heard him talk about it privately,” McFaul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The goal might not necessarily have been for Trump to win. Many observers of Putin and Russian behavior believe that the motive was not to specifically support Donald Trump but to cause disruptions in the election process and cast doubt as to the validity of the election, possibly believing that Clinton was going to be the inevitable winner. If the goal was to create questions as to the validity of the election result, I must say that it was a success.

If Russia was responsible for the leaks, it is also a stretch to say that this was the cause of Clinton’s loss considering the many serious faults in both the candidate and how the campaign was conducted. There would not have even been a question of whether the leaks affected the election if not for the dishonest behavior exposed, leaving Clinton and Democratic leaders at fault regardless of any foreign involvement. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers has also expressed the opinion that the leaked email did not impact the election results.

There are many possibilities here and so far we have limited information. Before developing conspiracy theories of a rigged election, we need a full investigation to find out what actually did happen. Picking and choosing a theory based upon its political usefulness is a poor way to arrive at the truth.

Democrats Continue To Blame Others For Election Loss And Ignore Their Mistakes

The Hill reported once again today that Dems grapple with lessons from Clinton disaster. As Joe Tippi pointed out, the election was so close that any of the factors cited could have changed the outcome. However, what Democrats miss is that the factors cited, including alleged Russian hacking the letter by James Comey, would have not affected the election if not for misconduct by Clinton and the Democrats who helped make her the nominee.

Harry Reid, who is well known for saying whatever he thinks will help politically, even when there are no facts to support him, is using both of these arguments. He said that James Comey cost Clinton the election. He ignores the fact the Democratic Party stacked the deck for Hillary Clinton despite the information which was readily available of Clinton’s misconduct in handling her email. If Clinton had not violated the rules in effect, as has been verified by the State Department Inspector General Report, and had not handled classified information in a careless manner, there would not have been an FBI investigation to harm Clinton’s campaign.

Reid also blames Russia. Not only does he repeat the unproven claims already made, he goes beyond this to claim that the Trump campaign was in on Russian hacking. As he thinks that James Comey is a partisan out to get Clinton, he would probably not be interested in the fact that the FBI found no such link. This also ignores the fact that the email leaked to Wikileaks, which has not even been proved to have come from Russia, would never have been a problem if not what the email showed about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton has now joined efforts to use the dubious Russia argument to challenge the legitimacy of the election, after she made such a big deal of questioning whether Donald Trump would accept the results. Of course Clinton knows about foreign meddling in elections, considering how she supported doing so in past Russian and Palestinian elections.

Donald Trump ultimately won because the Democratic Party made a huge mistake in rigging the system to nominate a candidate as unfit for the presidency as Hillary Clinton. There would have been no FBI investigation, and no problems with the revelations in the leaked email, if the party had nominated a more suitable candidate such as Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump won because the Democratic Party rigged the system to nominate a candidate as dreadful as Clinton–and Harry Reid was a big part of this in Nevada. Blaming the FBI investigation of Clinton, or what was in the Wikileaks email, only acts to show how big a mistake it was to nominate Clinton.

A New Wave Of Anti-Russia Hysteria Based Upon Questionable Information

We are seeing another wave of anti-Russia hysteria following an article in The Washington Post which makes unproven claims of Russian tampering in the presidential election. The claims continue to receive increased attention because it feeds into the attempts of Democratic partisans to blame the loss on factors other than the fact that they picked a highly flawed candidate, who then went on to run a terrible campaign.

The arguments against Russia are quite reminiscent of the false claims about Iraq in the lead up to that war. The hysteria is helped by the possibility of a grain of truth to the claims. It is not uncommon for governments to try to influence politics in other nations, with the United States having a long history of this. Hillary Clinton attempted to meddle in the Russian elections against Putin, and some degree of retaliation would not be a surprise. Russia had additional motivation to oppose the election of a warmonger such as Hillary Clinton out of the belief, which has considerable justification, that the election of Clinton would lead to the resumption of Cold War style hostilities between the United States and Russia, at the very least. The desire by Clinton’s neoconservative allies for nation building in Russia gave even further incentive.

This hardly means that Russia rigged our election as some are now saying. Regardless of what the Russians did, the FBI has found no clear link between Donald Trump and Russia. The closest we have had to a rigged election in the United States was in the nomination of Hillary Clinton by the Democratic Party.

Of course the possibility of hacking by Russia should be investigated. The press should also pay more attention to the actual revelations about the Democratic Party in the leaked email, along with the history of United States meddling in the affairs of other nations.

Glen Greenwald debunked the latest round of anti-Russia hysteria in an article entitled Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA’s Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence:

The Washington Post late Friday night published an explosive story that, in many ways, is classic American journalism of the worst sort: The key claims are based exclusively on the unverified assertions of anonymous officials, who in turn are disseminating their own claims about what the CIA purportedly believes, all based on evidence that remains completely secret.

These unnamed sources told the Post that “the CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.” The anonymous officials also claim that “intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails” from both the DNC and John Podesta’s email account. Critically, none of the actual evidence for these claims is disclosed; indeed, the CIA’s “secret assessment” itself remains concealed...

Needless to say, Democrats — still eager to make sense of their election loss and to find causes for it other than themselves — immediately declared these anonymous claims about what the CIA believes to be true, and, with a somewhat sweet, religious-type faith, treated these anonymous assertions as proof of what they wanted to believe all along: that Vladimir Putin was rooting for Donald Trump to win and Hillary Clinton to lose and used nefarious means to ensure that outcome. That Democrats are now venerating unverified, anonymous CIA leaks as sacred is par for the course for them this year, but it’s also a good indication of how confused and lost U.S. political culture has become in the wake of Trump’s victory.

Among the key points he discussed was that “no rational person should blindly believe anonymous claims of this sort — even if it is pleasing to believe such claims.” He started this argument by pointing out that “CIA officials are professional, systematic liars; they lie constantly, by design, and with great skill, and have for many decades, as have intelligence officials in other agencies.”

Marcy Wheeler  looked at some of the contradictions in the news reports, reminding us of what happened when we failed to question the misinformation prior to the Iraq war:

Some senior US official (often code for senior member of Congress) says this is the consensus view. Another senior US official (or maybe the very same one) says there are “minor disagreements.”

Remember: we went to war against Iraq, which turned out to have no WMD, in part because no one read the “minor disagreements” from a few agencies about some aluminum tubes. A number of Senators who didn’t read that footnote closely (and at least one that did) are involved in this story. What we’re being told is there are some aluminum tube type disagreements.

Regardless of whether Russia was involved in the release of the Wikileaks email, and there is no evidence so far that they were, the argument that this is what caused Clinton’s defeat ignores the multiple other problems with both the candidate and her campaign. Juan Cole wrote, No, America, it wasn’t Russia: You did it to Yourself:

I don’t doubt that the Russian Federation employs hackers and PR people to influence public opinion and even election outcomes in other countries. So does the United States of America. But I am skeptical that anything the Russians did caused Donald Trump to be president.

It wasn’t like Trump was a Manchurian Candidate, a stealth plant in the US body politic who would only be operationalized once elected.

Trump was in plain view. He had all along been in plain view. His hatred for uppity or “nasty” women, his racism, his prickliness, his narcissism, his rich white boy arrogance and entitlement (apparently even to strange women and other men’s wives), his cronyism and his fundamental dishonesty were on display 24/7 during some 18 months of the campaign, and it wasn’t as though he were an unknown quantity before that.

Americans voted for him anyway. Slightly more Americans voted for him than for a respectable person like Mitt Romney. No Russians were holding a gun to their heads. And they knew, or should have known, what they were getting.

By a “black swan” fluke, a few tens of thousands of the Trump voters were distributed differently, state by state, than the McCain and Romney voters; and in some key states like Michigan Sec. Clinton did not do as well as Obama had, even if she was beloved in California and New York…

Nor did any Russian hacking related to Wikileaks, if that is what happened, prove decisive. Clinton’s own polling people found the big turning point was when she called Trump voters a “basket of deplorables.” Americans don’t like being talked down to, and had already gotten rid of Romney for the same sin. The spectacle of Clinton taking hundreds of thousands of dollars to give a speech to the people who put them out of their homes in 2008-9 also turned many of them off so that they stayed home, while another section of them decided to take a chance on Trump. He will screw them over, but from their point of view, they worried that she might have, as well. Trump was promising to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs via protectionism, whereas everyone understood that Sec. Clinton’s first instinct was to do TPP and send more jobs to Asia.

Email Scandal Again Affecting Clinton And Election

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This unpredictable election race suddenly became more complicated on Friday. For months I had been warning that nominating Hillary Clinton, with her history of serious ethical transgressions, was not only an improper move by the Democratic establishment, but also a politically risky move. While it is doubtful she could have beaten any other Republicans, the repeated acts of self-destruction by Donald Trump appeared to placed Clinton on path for a safe victory. The race had already become tighter, with Trump narrowing the gap in some polls, pulling within two percent in the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll. A dramatic new development in the email scandal now means that Clinton cannot run on the clock, and might not win by the margins predicted just a few days ago.

We actually know very little other than that material found during the FBI probe into Anthony Weiner sexting a minor has led the FBI to reopen their investigation of Hillary Clinton and her private server. It is hard to believe that the James Comey would have made such an announcement this close to the election unless there was something significant. We have no meaningful information yet and and at this point it is all speculation. Among the possibilities are that classified information might have turned up on a computer or phone used by Weiner and/or his wife Huma Abedin. Possibly there might be email exchanges which shed more light on the question of intent. While the law does not stipulate that intent is a factor, the double standard applied to Hillary Clinton, as opposed to others who have mishandled classified information, has required evidence of intent in her case.

As is typical of Clinton and her supporters, the immediate response was to attack the messenger, with attacks on James Comey for sending his letter this week. In reality, Comey had no choice. He had testified before Congress that the investigation was closed, making him obligated to inform Congress of the change in status. If he failed to divulge this until after the election he would have been accused of playing politics. It is also questionable if this could have been kept secret. Many career officials at the FBI and Department of Justice have reportedly been upset with Comey’s decision not to recommend indictment of Clinton, and might have leaked the fact they are now looking into new evidence.

Unless there is a bigger bombshell, Clinton will most likely still win, with tribalism leading most traditional Democratic voters to stick with her. Trump has also alienated far too many people, for good reason, to fully capitalize on this development. Still, we have an unusual election in which the majority dislikes and distrusts both major party candidates. Whichever has their negatives most strongly in the minds of the voters on election day will suffer. Clinton is faced not only with the email scandal, but with a steady release of embarrassing information from Wikileaks, including most recently how the Clinton Foundation was used to sell influence for the personal financial gain of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The headlines shifting from Trump bragging about assaulting women to the Clinton scandals can have an impact, both on the presidential election and on down ticket Democratic candidates. It also also likely that Clinton’s opposition researchers will release something new this week to attempt to put the attention back on Trump.

While James Comey previously said that no prosecutor would bring the case against Hillary Clinton, his statement was quite harmful to Clinton, showing both that she was extremely careless with classified information and that her defense of her actions in statements to the American people and before Congress were not truthful. The mishandling of classified information is only one aspect of the scandal, with the State Department Inspector General report also showing that she violated the rules put into effect to promote government transparency, failed to cooperate with the investigation, and has repeatedly lied about her actions. Clinton also violated the ethics agreements she entered into before being confirmed as Secretary of State, casting considerable doubt as to whether she should subsequently be trusted with another government position especially the presidency.

Clinton very well could still win due to all the problems with Donald Trump, but hopefully voters will realize that, even if they see Clinton as the lesser evil, she still deserves an extraordinary degree of scrutiny should she become president.

Wikileaks Exposes Clinton, Inc

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Defenders of the Clintons and the shady operations surrounding the Clinton Foundation have often defended their actions with claims that the Clintons did not profit personally from money raised by the Foundation. Such arguments were always questionable considering the vast fortune accumulated from speaking fees, but now Wikileaks has provided evidence of even more direct financial benefits for the Clintons. The Note reports:

–A PEEK INSIDE ‘CLINTON, INC.’: A 12-page memo attached to an email released on Wikileaks Wednesday from a longtime aide to President Bill Clinton seems to provide a step-by-step road-map to how advisers raised millions of dollars for the Clinton Foundation, former President Clinton, and the Clinton family after he left the White House, ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS notes. The purported memo from Doug Band details how he and his team locked in lucrative speaking deals for Bill Clinton and how he leveraged his work at his global consulting firm, Teneo Strategies, to persuade clients to also contribute to the Clinton Foundation. Band describes his work lining up for-profit business and in-kind services for Clinton as essentially running “Bill Clinton, Inc.” “We also have solicited and obtained, as appropriate, in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like,” Band purportedly wrote in the document.

–BACKSTORY: Previously released emails, dated just days prior to this memo, seem to show Band expressing concern over the conflated, tangled and confused web of personnel roles and money in the Clinton world, citing, for example, his opinion that Chelsea Clinton was running a business out of the family foundation office. He seems to urge more clearly defined roles and conflict of interest documents.

–ANALYSIS –ABC’s RICK KLEIN: John Podesta’s hacked emails have provided enough raw material to fill a bookshelf with campaign retrospectives. We now have a picture of fierce internal debates over how to handle Hillary Clinton’s paid-speech transcripts, emerging primary challenges from the left, and of course how to handle the matter of her email server. (“There Is Just No Good Answer,” Philippe Reines wrote to Podesta and several other top aides, with dramatic spacing for effect.) But the peek behind the curtain is perhaps nowhere more revealing than in the warfare revealed between Chelsea Clinton and top Bill Clinton aide Doug Band over the Clinton Foundation and the web of personal and business connections that grew around it. A memo out this week via Wikileaks has Band describing what he labeled “Bill Clinton Inc.,” describing his work to secure “in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like,” in addition to highly paid speeches to private enterprises. This is the kind of operation the Clintons’ critics have long warned about – with revolving doors, intersecting public and private interests, and opportunities for lined pockets all around. Donald Trump this week was criticized for taking a break from his campaign to attend to and hype business matters. Inside Clinton Inc., that doesn’t look so out of the ordinary.

It was probably not illegal to solicit gifts in exchange for access to Bill Clinton when he was a private citizen, but it was a different matter when he was married to the Secretary of State and receiving payments from parties which Hillary Clinton was making decisions regarding. Many also made unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton. It was also rather shady to be soliciting gifts when his wife was planning to run for president.

Hillary Clinton Finally Finds A Job She Can Handle At Al Smith Dinner

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Hillary Clinton botched health care reform terribly as First Lady, setting us back a generation. She was an atrocious Senator, taking the wrong position on the big issues of the day, including the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, while spending her time introducing legislation such as a bill to make flag burning a felony and working with The Fellowship to further the goals of the religious right. She was a failed Secretary of State, between her disastrous intervention in Libya, her violation of the ethics agreements she entered into, and her violation of rules initiated to promote government transparency. I fear the outcome of her becoming president. However, last night we did see her do one job very well–mocking Donald Trump (who fortunately will never become president) at the Al Smith Dinner.

Hillary Clinton did an excellent job–video above and transcript here. Some of her best lines:

It’s a treat for all of you, too, because I charge a lot for speeches like this.

People look at the Statue of Liberty and they see a proud symbol of our history as a nation of immigrants. A beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald sees the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4. Maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.

Now, I’m going to try my best tonight, but I understand I am not known for my sense of humor. That’s why it did take a village to write these jokes.

And, you know, because this is a friendly dinner for such a great cause; Donald, if at any time, you don’t like what I’m saying feel free to stand up and shout “Wrong!” while I’m talking.

You know, come to think of it, it’s amazing I’m up here after Donald. I didn’t think he’d be okay with a peaceful transition of power.

And Donald, after listening to your speech, I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.

Donald Trump did not receive as good a reception. Video above and transcript here. Some highlights and lowlights:

And even tonight, with all of the heated back and forth, between my opponent and me at the debate last night, we have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, “Pardon me.”
And I very politely replied, “Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.”

You know, the president told me to stop whining, but I really have to say, the media is even more biased this year than ever before — ever. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it — it’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech — and people get on her case.

I’d like to address an important religious matter: the issue of going to confession. Or, as Hillary calls it, the Fourth of July weekend with FBI Director Comey.

Hillary is so corrupt, she got kicked off the Watergate Commission.
How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission? Pretty corrupt. Hillary is, and has been, in politics since the 70s. What’s her pitch? The economy is busted? The government’s corrupt? Washington is failing? “Vote for me. I’ve been working on these problems for 30 years. I can fix it”, she says.

We’ve learned so much from WikiLeaks. For example, Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy — and a totally different policy in private. That’s okay. I don’t know who they’re angry at Hillary, you or I. For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.

Donald Trump was booed for many of these lines. Was it because he crossed the line, or was it because the audience was not familiar with the content in the leaked Wikileaks emails which were the basis of some of these jokes? Regardless, Hillary Clinton definitely did a much better job at taking down the opponent (much as she has done at the debates), and was even the more amusing of the two, even if it did take a village to write her jokes.

Final Presidential Debate Shows Neither Candidate Is Acceptable

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The final presidential debate (transcript here, with fact checking) provided further confirmation that neither major party candidate is fit to be president, but Hillary Clinton is a far better debater than Donald Trump. Even when Trump had a valid point against Clinton, he lacked the ability to stay on target, drifting into irrelevances and lacking a sufficient command of the pertinent facts. On the other hand, I wish the debate included a split screen–one showing Clinton delivering her public policy, and the other revealing her private policy.

It was fitting that the final debate took place in Sin City. Donald Trump reportedly invited the woman who accused Bill Clinton of groping her to the debate. He dwells too much on things that don’t matter. Who is going to vote against Hillary (that otherwise would vote for her) based upon Bill’s sexual indiscretions? It just is not relevant.

Chris Wallace, who might have done the best job of the debate moderators, did start out with real issues. Clinton was far better than Trump on abortion and guns. Trump apparently has no idea how rare late term abortions are, or the reasons they usually occur. Like many Republicans, he does not appear to realize that the Bill of Rights includes anything beyond the Second Amendment, although Clinton also has a rather poor record on civil liberties. Trump was also his usual atrocious self when the debate turned to immigration. When Trump complained about Justice Ginsberg  making  “statements that should have never, ever been made,” I only thought that Donald Trump is the last person to be able to complain about “statements that should have never, ever been made.”

Clinton was not as bad in terms of evading the questions as she was during the second debate, but that is largely due to the types of questions asked. When she was asked about the emails released by Wikileaks, she pivoted to attack Russia. The leaks may or may not have been due to Russia, but her attacks on Russia remind me all too much of the attacks on Saddam for imaginary WMD by Bush, and false claims by Hillary Clinton of connections between Saddam and al Qaeda. What is important is the content of the leaks, and the dishonesty they revealed about Clinton. Besides, the United States is certainly not above comparable spying and interference in other countries, and I fear Clinton is misusing this matter as part of the overall neocon view on Russia.

Clinton’s belligerence towards Russia, and the increased threat of war, should be one of the major issues of the campaign. Trump would be preferable in his desire for cooperation with Russia if he wasn’t completely incoherent on foreign policy. Instead of rationally debating Clinton on this issue, his argument consisted of  “No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

Trump was right on pointing out how Clinton avoided the question of the content of the Wikileaks email, but rather than push the issue, he resorted to his usual nonsense of how Clinton refers to “radical Islamic terrorism,” as if saying the right magic words are needed to defeat them.

As the debate went on, Clinton called for equal pay for equal work, with no explanation for the huge pay gap at the Clinton Foundation which was exposed by Wikileaks. Trump was right in calling out Clinton for her flip-flops on TPP which were exposed by the fact checkers. When Trump was confronted by all the women who have accused him of assaulting them, he was the one to evade and pivot, returning to Clinton’s email.

Both candidates attacked the integrity of the other, and both were right here.  Clinton violated the ethics agreements she entered into when she was confirmed as Secretary of State, while Trump appears to have used his far shadier for bribes. Clinton again ignored the significance of the FBI report showing considerable dishonesty on her part when this was raised, and either Wallace or Trump should have brought up the State Department Inspector General report which showed she violated the rules, failed to cooperate with the investigation, and tried to cover-up her actions.

Clinton said she was going to “continue to push for a no-fly zone” in Syria, but there was no discussion of the large number of deaths this would result in, or the risk of a direct confrontation with Russia.  Initiating a no-fly zone would be a tremendous military undertaking. Just last month, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford testified before Congress that imposing a no-fly zone “would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia.” Clinton admitted that “you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians” in one of her leaked Goldman-Sachs speeches.

The sad thing about the debate, and the entire campaign, is that such major issues of war and peace are being ignored, while the media dwells on the latest stupid thing said by Donald Trump–such as whether Donald Trump will accept the election result. This statement, while imprudent and potentially ominous, is hardly unprecedented. The real story of the election is not sexual misconduct, as reprehensible as Trump’s actions were, but the fact that our democracy has devolved to a point where we are given a choice of an ignorant buffoon like Trump or a corrupt war-monger like Clinton–with alternative viewpoints not welcome.

Re Wikileaks and Clinton: If There Was Ever Any Doubt That Thomas Friedman Is Still A Wanker…

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Thomas Friedman has long been considered a wanker by many of his left for his centrist views and support for the status quo, including his support for the Iraq war. In 1992 Duncan Black called him the “one true wanker of the decade.” Alternet followed up with a look at ten of his dumbest “big ideas.” He has shown that he is still a wanker in supporting Hillary Clinton based upon the revelations in the email released by Wikileaks.

Wikileaks did reveal that Clinton is a centrist who is hostile to liberal and progressive viewpoints and a supporter of free trade, but that was no surprise. She has spent most of her career as a DLC Democrat and nonconservative working to undermine liberal goals, promote military interventionism, and move the country to the right.

From an ideological viewpoint alone, this might be understandable as Friedman prefers centrist, pragmatic politicians who will not upset the status quo, and who support globalization and free trade. If this is all that Wikileaks revealed, then I might understand his viewpoint, even if disagreeing on many policies.

While it is no surprise that Friedman is happy with this aspect of the Wikileaks releases, he shows no concern for the dishonesty demonstrated. It is one thing for a candidate to campaign as a centrist and promote their viewpoint. It is far more dishonest when the candidate campaigns as a progressive in response to a primary challenge from the left, when it is doubtful she has any intention of keeping her promises. The unethical behavior demonstrated, especially the exchange of “benefits in return for gifts” involving the Clinton Foundation, is even more unsavory. I would hope that journalists should be concerned about such dishonesty in a politician even when she shares their views. The same could be said about many Democrats who are willing to overlook anything Clinton does because she is their candidate.

Apparently this is all one more example of the cozy relationship between the Clinton campaign and the press, also exposed in in the leaked email. This is also seen in contributions from journalists to the Clinton campaign.We have seen how little attention the press has paid to Wikileaks releases on Clinton compared to Trump’s sexual scandals.

Can we count on these journalists to adequately question Clinton’s arguments over matters such as going to war? It is rather scary to have someone as corrupt and dishonest as Hillary Clinton likely to be elected president in a few weeks, while the news media shows such little interest in her actions.

Further Revelations Worsen Email Scandal And Demonstrate Clinton Dishonesty & Corruption

Clinton Money

The evidence continues to increase that, regardless of how the presidential election comes out, we will have a dishonest and crooked president in the White House. It is much more likely that it will be Hillary Clinton considering the death spiral which Trump’s campaign has gone into. Clinton continues to lead the race despite a steady stream of bad news which receives far less attention than Trump’s sex scandals.

Clinton continues to be harmed by the email scandal or, as Chris Cillizza put it, Hillary Clinton’s email problems just came roaring back:

On Monday, however, the various issues associated with Clinton’s email setup came roaring back. According to emails released by the FBI, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the FBI to ease up on classification decisions in exchange for allowing more FBI agents in countries where they were not permitted to go. The words “quid pro quo” were used to describe the proposed exchange by the FBI official. (The State Department insists it was no such thing; “This allegation is inaccurate and does not align with the facts,” said State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner in a statement. “To be clear: the State Department did upgrade the document at the request of the FBI when we released it back in May 2015.”)

The Clinton campaign will, as it has done every time there is any news about whether she sent or received classified material on her private server, chalk this up to an interagency dispute over classification. Typical bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, they will say. This sort of stuff happens all the time!

Except, not really. First of all, we already know from FBI Director James B. Comey that Clinton sent and received emails and information that was classified at the time. (“110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received,” Comey said in his remarkable press conference on the FBI investigation.)  Clinton’s explanation has now evolved to this: She didn’t know documents marked with a “c” meant they were confidential (and therefore classified) and, therefore, she never knowingly sent or received classified material — with the emphasis on “knowingly.”

That’s a tough position to hold in light of Kennedy’s attempted quid pro quo, which suggests that at least some people at State were actively trying to fiddle with classification determinations made by the FBI.

That is a huge point. Regardless of whether the FBI agreed to any quid pro quo, the attempt shows that Clinton staffers, if not Clinton herself, were aware of the classified email being sent over Clinton’s private server. This pretty much guarantees that Republicans will continue to investigate the matter and, if they should retain control of Congress and, if they desire to go down that path, there is serious grounds for impeachment. If Republicans control the Senate, I can also see them denying confirmation of long-time top Clinton aides, should they be appointed to posts requiring Senate confirmation, based upon their actions at the State Department.

Clinton’s ethical problems extend beyond her private email. USA Today reports on further evidence of the unseemly relationships between private donors, the State Department, and the Clinton Foundation:

The nexus among private companies, Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton family foundations is closer and more complex than even Donald Trump has claimed so far.

While it is widely known that some companies and foreign governments gave money to the foundations, perhaps in an effort to gain favor, one of the key parts of the puzzle hasn’t been reported: At least a dozen of those same companies lobbied the State Department, using lobbyists who doubled as major Clinton campaign fundraisers.

Those companies gave as much as $16 million to the Clinton charities. At least four of the lobbyists they hired are “Hillblazers,” the Clinton campaign’s name for supporters who have raised $100,000 or more for her current White House race. Two of the four also raised funds for Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid.

USA TODAY reached these conclusions by obtaining federal lobbying data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics for 2009-2013, Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State. Reporters then compared the data with donor lists made public by the Clinton nonprofits and federal campaign financial records.

These reports are in addition to the multiple Wikileaks revelations over the past several days. This summary notes issues including the expectation of “benefits in return for gifts,” and a one million dollar birthday gift to Bill Clinton from Qatar.

There have been multiple examples of how the Clinton campaign manipulated the press (often with their complete cooperation). One email revealed how they handled a hit-piece against Bernie Sanders which was published under another name, but actually written by the Clinton campaign:

When the Clinton campaign wrote an op-ed on gun violence to post on Medium, the team strategized to determine who they would use as an author in order to maximize the public relations benefits it would yield Hillary Clinton while criticizing Bernie Sanders. “Here’s the draft, which I edited and can personalize depending on who we want to use as an author. A survivor of gun violence? An advocate or family member?” wrote Podesta in a January 2016 email. The post was published with Clai Lasher Sommers as the author, effectively using the high profile gun victim as a political prop.

The transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches demonstrated how cozy Clinton was with Wall Street, only talking about financial reform for political cover. Other speeches showed her bragging about her support for fracking and attacking opponents of fracking, along with the “radical environmentalists” supporting Bernie Sanders.

Shadowproof has a summary of further revelations in the email.

Donald Trump has plenty of issues of his own, including a Foundation which is even shadier than the Clinton Foundation, but this probably will not matter as a combination of his dreadful performance in the first debate and the current sex scandals should prevent him from winning the election.

It is therefore unlikely that these revelations regarding Clinton will affect the general election at this point, but they very well might have affected the outcome of the Democratic primary battle if this information had been released, providing further proof of the accusations against Clinton made by her opponents on the left.

News Media’s Unbalanced Look At Trump Vs. Clinton Revelations

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The news over the past week has been virtually non-stop coverage of Donald Trump. There is no question that the revelations which first confirmed everything suspected about Donald Trump’s view of women and then led to multiple reports of Trump sexually assaulting women deserves major coverage. However, there have also been revelations from the email leaks about major dishonesty and corruption regarding Hillary Clinton which the media has given a small fraction of the coverage to.

A media reporter for The Hill has demonstrated how one-sided the coverage has been:

In viewing recordings by The Hill of each major network’s evening newscasts, which are watched by an average total of 22 million to 24 million people nightly, the newest batch of WikiLeaks revelations was covered for a combined 57 seconds out of 66 minutes of total air time on ABC, NBC and CBS.

Those leaked emails include derogatory comments about Catholics by senior Clinton campaign officials and more disturbing examples of collusion between the media and her campaign It’s newsworthy stuff) —

On the other hand, allegations from four women of unwanted sexual advances by Trump were covered a combined 23 minutes.

Add it all up, and one presidential candidate’s negative news of the day was somehow covered more than 23 times more than another candidate’s negative news of the day.

It’s understood what has always sold in this business: sizzle always trumps steak, sex always triumphs over substance. If you told me the coverage was 2-1 or even a 3-1 ratio of Trump to Clinton, you wouldn’t be reading this column right now.

But a story winning the lead over another is one thing. Devouring it to the point of almost total omission via a more than 23:1 ratio is quite another:

“NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt devoted zero seconds to the Democrat and Wikileaks on Thursday night.

“ABC World News Tonight” with David Muir gave it the same time as a shot clock in college basketball: 30 seconds.

“CBS Evening News” with Scott Pelley when 27 seconds with the story.

To put the importance of evening news editorial into context, the size of the its collective audience each night trounces the highest-rated program on CNN. In Wednesday night’s case, that was “Anderson Cooper 360,” with 1.925 million viewers. On MSNBC, it was “All in with Chris Hayes,” with 1.926 million. On Fox News, it was “The O’Reilly Factor,” with 3.728 million.

Add all of those up, and it’s just shy of 7.6 million, or about one-third the number of people watching ABC, NBC and CBS, the networks presenting — in theory, anyway — straight news stories without the opinion and conjecture that dominates cable news…

Somewhere around 23 million people absorbed Trump getting pulverized for 23 minutes across the Big Three broadcast network evening newscasts.

Less than a minute combined was devoted to damaging documents pertaining to Clinton.

There are probably two different reasons for this discrepancy. First, sex sells. This might justify giving top billing, and possibly even more time, to the stories on Trump. It does not justify virtually ignoring the stories pertaining to Clinton. Secondly, the people in the news media generally prefer Clinton over Trump. Regardless of whether this opinion is justified, this is just bad journalism.

There is also an important reason to place Clinton under more scrutiny. Hillary Clinton will most likely be the next president. The chances of Trump winning are now very remote. Clinton’s history of corruption is directly relevant to what we need to be on guard against for the next four years.

The media has also done a great job of digging into Trump’s past. As I noted at the time of the second presidential debate, once Trump claimed that the leaked video which started this was all talk, he opened himself up to being contradicted by any women who would come forward with stories of actually being sexually assaulted by him.

If only the media would do a better job of looking into Clinton’s past. Donald Trump touching women’s bodies without their consent is inexcusable, but so are the bombs dropped on women (along with children, and men) in wars promoted by Hillary Clinton, often under false pretenses, also inexcusable.

Hillary Clinton pushed for the Iraq war based upon false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda after failing to even read the intelligence material made available to members of the Senate–information which led some other Senators to oppose the war. She similarly orchestrated regime change in Libya with the facts contradicting her arguments for war. She pushed for intervention in Syria on rather irrational grounds, and now joins with other neocons in pushing for further aggression against Russia.

Certainly this is also something of significance for the media to explore, even if less titillating than the stories on Donald Trump.