Browsing the archives for the Hillary Clinton category.


Final Debate Live Blog

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Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

Get the beer and popcorn ready, folks. I’ll be here watching and will add commentary as we go. I don’t promise to be sober, though.

About to start.

Supreme Court!

She’s standing up for LGBT rights, Roe v. Wade; the Supreme Court should stand up for all of us. No on Citizens’ United. Good answer.

The Nortious RGB insulted Trump? I missed that one. Trump wants to uphold the second amendment. Trump’s justices will be pro-life and protect the 2nd Amendment.

Discussion time. Clinton says she supports the 2nd Amendment but also supports reasonable regulations. Comprehensive background checks; close loopholes. These are not in conflict with the 2nd Amendment. The Heller decision did not apply the 2nd Amendment correctly, she said.

Clinton says Trump is heavily supported by the NRA and the gun lobby. Split screen; he is nodding. Yep; he’s supported by the gun lobby.

Abortion!

He promises to put more “pro-life” justices on the court, overturn Roe v. Wade and return the abortion question to the states.

She’s not being squishy; she will defend Roe v. Wade; she will defend Planned Parenthood; she will defend women’s rights.

Government has no business in those decisions, she said.

Trump talks about evil women having babies ripped from their wombs days before birth. Give me a break.

Immigration!

Criminals are pouring across the border! Trump cries. Heroin pours across the borders! That’s the biggest problem in New Hampshire now, apparently. It’s coming from Canada?

We need the wall! We stop the drugs! We need to get all of the drug lords!

Trump is sniffing again. Bad hombres!

Clinton says she doesn’t want to rip families apart or send the deportation presence required to deport all undocumented families.

Trump went to Mexico, choked when talking to the Mexican president.

Trump used undocumented labor to build Trump tower. I want to get undocumented workers into the regular economy so they aren’t undercutting American workers.

Clinton: Will you admit that Wikileaks is coming from Russian hackers? That a foreign government is trying to undercut our election?

Trump says he doesn’t know Putin. Then he says he knows Putin doesn’t respect Clinton. These cyberattacks come from the highest levels of the government?

Trump is losing it already. This is turning into a repeat of the first debate.

Chris Wallace took Clinton’s side on the Soviet hacker thing.

Now he’s denying that he thought it would be swell if other countries got nukes. We already found those videos, dude.

Economy!

When the middle class thrives, America thrives, Clinton says. Biggest jobs program since World War II. Sounds good. Green energy. Create opportunities. Help small business. Raise the minimum wage. People who work full time should not be in poverty. Education system. More technical ed.

She mentioned Bernie! Free college tuition!

Let the wealthy pay their fair share.

Trump is proposing trickle-down economics on steroids.

Trump claims Clinton is proposing a massive tax increase.

He’s going back to the previous segment. NATO; why isn’t NATO paying up?

He’s lost it. He’s not shouting yet, but he’s lost it. Probably he was told to stay on trade deals. Jobs have fled to Mexico.

Cut taxes and corporations will start hiring people. Yeah, like that works.

Chris Wallace says to Trump, even conservative economists don’t think your plan will work.

Clinton: The only one who has ever imported Chinese steel is Trump. He built the Trump Las Vegas hotel with Chinese steel.

On the very day Clinton was in the situation room, watching the raid that took Osama bin Laden, he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice.

Fitness to be President!

Chris Wallace brings up the nine women who accused Trump of assault. Why would these women say this?

Trump says the women’s stories are debunked. Now he’s denying he said things we all heard him say.

Clinton says we want to think about what kind of country we want.

Trump brings up the emails.

Clinton: Every time Donald is pushed on something, he denies responsibility. He never apologizes or accepts responsibilities. Mocking reporter. Mr. and Mrs. Khan. John McCain. This is a pattern of divisiveness. This is a pattern of a dark and dangerous vision. This is not what America is.

Trump: All charges against me are false. I never said what I said.

Chris Wallace: What about Clinton Foundation pay to play?

Clinton: I would love to talk about the Clinton Foundation. Starts to rattle off accomplishments.

Trump is yelling, It’s a criminal enterprise!

Trump says he’s entitled to not pay income taxes.

When will this be over?

Rigged elections? Trump refuses to say he will accept the results of the election!

No, Trump, there are not millions of people registered to vote who are not supposed to be registered.

Now he’s saying that Clinton should not be allowed to run for president.

Clinton: Trump always says something was rigged when he loses. He even said the Emmys were rigged.

Whining! she said whining! He’s talking down our democracy!

Foreign hot spots!

Mosul! Can Trump find Mosul on a map? No, he wasn’t asked that.

Clinton will not support putting American troops in Iraq as an occupying force. She hopes for a successful military operations.

No fly zone, safe havens within Syria. Leverage against Syrian government and Russians.

Trump thinks ISIS already left Mosul. Whatever happened to element of surprise?

Trump seems to think that the only reason Iraq is attacking Mosul is to make Hillary Clinton look good. Iran should write us a thank-you note for this.

Chris Wallace: I want to follow up on another debate. [to Trump] You said things about Aleppo that weren’t true.

Trump: Aleppo is so sad, and awful, and everything bad that happened there is Hillary Clinton’s fault. He really said that.

All over the world, fact checkers have thrown themselves on the floor, weeping. Too much! Too much!

How much longer will this go on?

National debt!

Chris Wallace cites right-leaning social spending cutting groups to talk about taxes and entitlements. Social Security is going bankrupt! Oh noes!

Trump wants to repeal and replace Obamacare to save Obamacare.

Wallace asks Clinton is she’s willing to entertain a grand bargain on Social Security and entitlements.

Final question! Hooray! Why should people vote for you? Clinton has a good boilerplate answer ready.

Trump: Everything is a disaster. I will fix it. All she does is talk.

IT’S OVER!

Okay, the big headline from this debate is that Trump directly refused to say he would respect the result of the election. This is going to eat up most of the post-debate spin.

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SNL v. Trump

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Bad Hair, entertainment and popular culture, Hillary Clinton

Last night’s SNL opening skit made me laugh:

Even better, it so pissed off Donald Trump that he went on one of his dead-of-night Twitter rants. And he hates Alec Baldwin, which is about the nicest thing that’s happened to Alec Baldwin in some time.

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The Winds of Change Are, Unfortunately, Blowing Over a Garbage Dump

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American History, Bad Hair, big picture stuff, Hillary Clinton, Republican Party

Matt Taibbi:

The first symptom of a degraded aristocracy is a lack of capable candidates for the throne. After years of indulgence, ruling families become frail, inbred and isolated, with no one but mystics, impotents and children to put forward as kings. Think of Nikolai Romanov reading fortunes as his troops starved at the front. Weak princes lead to popular uprisings. Which brings us to this year’s Republican field.

There wasn’t one capable or inspiring person in the infamous “Clown Car” lineup. All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer. And so on.

There’s a lot of talk about whether the Republicans can survive. Clearly, it’s not on its deathbed yet. But reading more of Taibbi, I do wonder what it will survive as. Here he’s describing the Paul Ryan-led rally in Wisconsin from which Trump was dis-invited:

The party schism burst open in the middle of a speech by Wisconsin’s speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos. Vos is the Billy Mays of state budget hawks. He’s a mean-spirited little ball of energy who leaped onto the stage reminding the crowd that he wanted to eliminate the office of the treasurer to SAVE YOU MONEY!

Vos went on to brag about having wiped out tenure for University of Wisconsin professors, before dismounting with yet another superawkward Trumpless call for Republicans to turn out to vote.

“I have no doubt that with all of you standing behind us,” he shouted, “and with the fantastic record of achievement that we have, we’re going to go on to an even bigger and better victory than before!”

There was scattered applause, then someone from the crowd called out:

“You uninvited Donald Trump!”

Boos and catcalls, both for and against Vos and the Republicans. Most in the crowd were Trump supporters, but others were angry with Trump for perhaps saddling them with four years of Hillary Clinton. These camps now battled it out across the field. A competing chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” started on the opposite end of the stands, only to be met by chants from the pro-Trumpers.

“We want Trump! We want Trump!” “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

Ryan, the last speaker, tried to cut the tension with a leaden joke about the “elephant in the room.” But he still refused to speak Trump’s name, or do more than refer the crowd to a written statement. He just smiled like it was all OK, and talked about what a beautiful day it was.

The threat of a Trump insurgency to the GOP might be mitigated if the GOP had even one strong, respected figurehead for the party to rally around. Alas, all they’ve got is Paul Ryan and John McCain.

My guess is that the Trump faithful might very well split off and form their own party, which in the U.S. is usually the first step toward political irrelevance. But if the worst of the whackjobs follow Trump into eventual oblivion, taking the red-meat-only base with them, it could allow the remaining Republican mainstream to move back toward the center again. Which would be a good thing, in the long run. Maybe they’ll even taken an interest in the governing thing.

 But then you’ve got the Democratic Party, which also is being run by out-of-touch aristocrats. The Wikileaks emails show us that even Clinton’s campaign staff worried their candidate had no compelling reason to run.

The correspondence reveals a campaign that has struggled all year to improve a flawed candidate. As far back as March, aides were keenly aware that she was resistant to the media, perhaps out of touch with regular Americans and unable to convey a clear message to voters.

A month before Clinton launched her campaign, her aides worked to corral her well-known love for granular policy details into a message that would both capture her agenda and present a forward-looking, aspirational vision for her presidency.

Nearly a year later, a similar struggle cropped up as they attempted to revise her core campaign message.

“Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” asked Clinton adviser Joel Benenson. . . .

. . . .Seven months later and on the cusp of Election Day, the concerns laid out in these emails and others largely remain. Clinton has proven to be a lackluster candidate who has struggled to win over the liberals who gravitated to Sanders during the primary, and who remains ahead in large part due to Trump’s historic weaknesses.

“Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump,” Brent Budowsky, a political columnist and former political adviser, wrote in a March 2016 email to Podesta and Roy Spence, an ad maker for the campaign. “She has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify.”

The electorate is roiling with a desire for change, and the Democratic nominee had no clue.

In our alarm and loathing of Donald Trump, we must not lose sight of how Hillary Clinton came to be the Democratic nominee.

The answer: we live in a moribund democracy, not a thriving one.  A conjunction of corporate political power and immense wealth is forcibly installing a president.  We haven’t confronted this before, either.  We will cast our ritual ballots in November, but not in a free election: the Democratic nominee was imposed upon us by the corporate and the wealthy.

That’s a strong charge, but as I’ve written in the past, that’s pretty much what happened. The Democratic Party itself made sure there was  no real contest. The Clinton nomination was a done deal long before the primaries even began. But why was it so important to her to run, given that she has no real central message or agenda other than “I am competent”? That’s the part that remains baffling to me. Personal ambition is the only answer I can think of, and that’s not a good answer. It wouldn’t be a good answer for a male candidate, either.

Anyway, in short, the Democratic Party itself doesn’t trust its voters to choose the “right” nominee. The GOP has the opposite problem; it lost all control of the nomination process. Neither development is healthy.

IMO the Dems are roughly in the same place the GOP came to be in the 1990s and 2000, when the party was able to dictate who the nominee would be, and got away with knocking down the competition without too much grumbling. The Powers That Be in the GOP obviously had settled on George W. Bush as the standard bearer shortly after Bob Dole’s defeat in 1996, and they spent the next four years skillfully puffing Dubya up. And during the primaries, you could practically see the RNC’s thumb on the scale to be sure Dubya was the one left standing. (And how did Bob Dole get to be the nominee? I can’t believe that was a popular choice.) Well, now it’s the DNC forcing the pre-ordained candidate on the rest of us.

Eventually, people do notice when they’re being used. I heard a talking head on MSNBC this morning say that about 40 percent of Americans don’t think the presidential election process is legitimate, and this sentiment is spread across the political spectrum. Distrusting the legitimacy of elections has been a problem for a while, though. Republicans tried their best to delegitimize Bill Clinton’s presidency, for example, in part by blaming Ross Perot. They tried to delegitimize Barack Obama by claiming he only won because he was black — he was the cute novelty candidate, apparently.

Of course, in 2000 when George W. Bush was selected rather than elected, Democrats went along for the sake of tradition, or to keep Democracy alive, or something. That was a mistake.

Once you’ve seen the man behind the curtain, the old myths and buzzwords lose their force. As much as I look forward to seeing the Great Orange Sleazebag have his ass handed to him on election night, I’m not kidding myself that Hillary Clinton will be the president we need right now. She might surprise me, but I don’t think she’s got it in her to surprise me. The best we can hope for is that she’ll not completely renege on trying to pass the Democratic platform.

Going back to the Republicans — I believe the party will survive, but the Trump insurgency will force it to change. The mob of Faux Nooz viewers and Rusho dittoheads they have counted on to believe their bullshit and vote R will likely desert them for a long time, or at least a couple of election cycles. This might well force them to have to broaden their base, which means they will have to offer something besides hate. They might even have to start making sense. Radical, I know, but stranger things have happened.

But if Republicans change, Democrats will have to change also. They might have to stop being The Party That Isn’t as Awful as That Other Party and actually stand for something. Imagine.

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Well, That Was Ghastly

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Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

I’ll write something more extensive tomorrow. I suspect Trump’s core supporters think this was a triumph. He did manage to put Clinton on the defensive. Hell, he threatened to put her in jail.

But did he win any supporters who weren’t already with him? Hard to imagine. I thought he was a bullying creep who couldn’t answer questions about his own policy positions.

Well, like I said, more tomorrow.

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Bigly, Yuge Derp

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Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

It’s stupendous, I tell you …

I’ve been wondering something else, though, and Josh Marshall spells it out:

The key question is how much of the Atlantic City losses did Trump absorb in real terms? How much of those losses were forgiven or written off formally? And perhaps most importantly, how much of those losses were squirreled away or ‘parked’ in places which effectively put them in a sort of limbo or suspended animation – neither truly absorbed nor forgiven?

For example, we know he stiffed a lot of his vendors wholesale; paid pennies on the dollar of what he owed them, or not at all. Some of that might have been part of a bankruptcy settlement, but I believe much of it wasn’t. Did he write off bills from vendors as losses and then not pay the bills? Is that possible?

If you sustain real capital losses, you can apply those losses to cancel out future income/profits and reduce your tax liability. But if your losses are canceled out by debt forgiveness, the debt forgiveness is counted as income. That cancels out the losses that would provide you with the tax benefit. In other words, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

But there are many ways to be crafty and end up with both – some of those may simply be aggressive and sleazy and others may be clearly illegal. Bigly. The most obvious way would be to create some new business entity which you technically continued to owe vast sums of money to but which never actually tried to collect – in other words, you ‘park’ your debt somewhere it will never be heard from again. Any place on the spectrum would go a long, long way to explaining both Trump’s abject refusal to release his tax returns and almost perennial audits.

The question is: did Trump really lose almost $1 billion of his own capital in a single year? He definitely took a bath in Atlantic City. So maybe he did. But that number at least strains credulity, especially given how he was subsequently able to recover.

I know this isn’t going to discourage True Trump Believers. I know this because over at the blog of Jim Hoft, The Dumbest Man on the Internet®, the mouth breathers were outraged that the Clintons had also claimed business losses to reduce their income taxes. Although they still paid a lot of taxes. And also, they’ve released several years’ worth of tax returns. But the Clintons are just are worse, anyway! And the mouth-breathers who read Hoft don’t think people should have to pay federal income taxes, anyway. Yeah, like who needs a navy, right?

And you don’t need a link to that nonsense. You can find it yourself if you want to read it.

But Nate Silver now has the chance of winning at 70.8 percent Clinton, 29.1 percent Trump, which is still too close for my taste, but it’s a lot better than it was on September 25, when it was 58 and 42 percent, respectively. And Trump is running out of time to turn things around.

Mr. Multiple Deferments also pissed off a bunch of veterans today by saying people with PTSD are just “not strong.”

And there’s this:

The office of the New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has issued a “notice of violation” to Donald J. Trump’s foundation, ordering it to immediately stop soliciting charitable donations in the state.

However, tomorrow Julian Assange promises to release something that will destroy the Clinton campaign. He changed the announcement venue out of “security concerns,” which triggered a rumor that Hillary Clinton had wanted to take him out with a drone. So we’ll see. “Wednesday Hillary Clinton is done,” he said. I believe he has said that before.

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Hillary’s Night?

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Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

I just re-read what I wrote last night while the debate was going on, and it seems most of the other commentaries I’ve read agree with me. Trump became more and more unglued as the evening wore on, while Clinton kept her cool and smiled serenely while he ranted. This debate should help her; we’ll see.

I also want to point out that every specific policy proposal she made was right out of Bernie Sanders’s playbook. Clintonistas are still complaining that he “damaged” her, and they blame Sanders for the closeness in the poll. But it seems to me he made her a better candidate. Because he challenged her as doggedly as he did, she got a clue what actual voters are concerned about.

T.A. Frank at Vanity Fair summed it up:

Before Monday night’s debate, we all read that Hillary Clinton was planning to bait Donald Trump and that Donald Trump was blowing off debate practice. Two typical responses from jaded readers: 1) If that were Clinton’s real plan, she’d be hiding it. 2) Trump is obviously trying to set expectations low.

But never underestimate the power of incompetence. As it turns out, the pre-debate leaks seem to have been accurate: Clinton baited Trump, and Trump showed up unprepared. So what happened then? Clinton won. If we were to write it as a play:

Clinton campaign pre-debate: We’re going to bait Trump and make him lose his cool.

Trump campaign pre-debate: Whatever.

Hillary Clinton: Bait.

Trump: Loses cool.

Possibly the more important thing is that media are nearly unanimous that Clinton mopped the floor with Trump. Even right-wing media critters are grumbling that he could have done better and that he missed opportunities. So often, we’ve seen that the post-debate spin is more critical to public opinion than the actual debate, and Clinton clearly won the spin.

I mostly disagree with Jeb Lund that Clinton should have been more assertive and gone in for the kill. Yeah, she missed a couple of opportunities to stick a knife between his ribs, so to speak, but she was playing rope-a-dope very well, I thought. A shame Muhammad Ali didn’t live to see it. More assertiveness might have appeared to pull her down to his level.

At one point she even repeated Michelle Obama’s words — When they go low, we go high. Good strategy for last night.

Josh Marshall:

Clinton clearly went into this debate not looking for one or two big “Have you no decency” moments but rather looking to hit him with a rat-tat-tat series of taunts and jabs to see if she could get him to lose his cool and throw him off his game. It ended up happening a lot more quickly than I expected. No more than fifteen minutes in he was getting visibly angry. And he stayed that way for the next hour plus.

From maybe a half hour into the debate Clinton had almost entirely seized the initiative. She was attacking while he responded, sometimes angrily, sometimes with new attacks and very often by doubling down on demonstrable falsehoods he’s been pilloried for for months. At various moments he shuffled in and out of parts of his stump speech. But through most of the exchange he constantly interrupted Clinton, talked over her, denied claims she made which are easily validated. In terms of body language and style it was thermonuclear Rick Lazio.

That said, how this came across to undecided low-information voters is anybody’s guess. But I’ll be surprised if the polls don’t show some improvement in Clinton’s favor in the next few days. Maybe in the next debate she’ll bring the knife. And maybe he’ll actually prepare. But that’s probably expecting too much of him.

As for Lester Holt, seems to me he was barely there. Righties are complaining that his questions favored Clinton, but they were both mostly ignoring his questions anyway and going off on their own tangents. There were several times I wanted him to reign in Trump’s ravings, and Holt sat there and did nothing. That actually may have favored Clinton more than any questions he asked.

Oh, and Amanda Marcotte is already complaining that everything about the debate was sexist. Give it a bleeping rest, Amanda.

Update: Charles Pierce is worth reading.

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Why Is It So Close?

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Hillary Clinton

I still expect Clinton to win in November, but I confess I’m surprised the contest is as close as it is right now. Tomorrow’s debate could really matter.

So the question is, why is it so close? Just looking at the Clinton side, here are some possible factors, tossed out off the top of my head —

1. Clinton was never as popular with the Dem voting base as party elites assumed. Over the past few years I heard many bobbleheads on the teevee claim that Hillary Clinton was wildly popular with the base. This notion was placed in their heads, I assume, by the same Democratic Party elites who chose Clinton as the nominee before the primaries had started. But while there were polls taken in 2014 and early 2015 showing that a majority of Democrats would vote for her, I never saw much enthusiasm for her here in Real World Land. Her success in polls was merely a name recognition thing, I suspect. She was getting the same results in 2006 and 2007, BTW.

The way she won the primaries didn’t help her. IMO the primaries usually provide the eventual winner with a pool of supporters whose enthusiasm was whipped up by the primary fight itself. But my sense of things is that while Clinton still has her devoted core supporters who will stand by her through thick and thin, her primary campaign didn’t whip up any enthusiasm among those who weren’t already Hillaryphiles to begin with. Many people voted for her out of duty and because they weren’t sold on the electability of her only rival, the old socialist guy.

2. She’s not getting an expected boost among nonwhite voters. Nate Cohn writes that “Mrs. Clinton is not poised to match the gains Mr. Obama made among nonwhite voters over previous Democratic nominees,” he said.  Put another way, her support among blacks and Latinos was overrated and will not give her the boost in the general that she expected.

3. News Media and false equivalency. Do I have to spell this out? Trump isn’t being vetted in the part of national media that most voters actually see. Clinton, on the other hand, can’t catch a break.

4. The Two Third-Party Challengers. I’m not sure this is really much of a factor, especially the challenge coming from Stein. If it comes down to a very close election in November it might be a factor, however.

5. Independent voters could break either way. The only people who really like Clinton are true blue Dem Party loyalists. Among left-leaning independents, she’s kind of “meh,” if not downright disliked. I don’t think Trump is having the same problem with right-leaning independents.

6. Related to #5 — Trump probably is benefiting from widespread dislike of Clinton. Justified or not, a large portion of Americans genuinely hate Hillary Clinton. I suspect there are a lot of people planning to vote for Trump who wouldn’t consider him if anyone else were the Dem nominee. So while Clinton probably will get some crossover Republican votes, those will be more than offset by anybody-but Clinton voters.

7. Misogyny. I don’t think this is a big a factor as Hillary supporters believe, but it is marginal factor, I’m sure.

8. Young people will sit out this election. She’s not getting the support from younger voters that Obama got. They are less likely to be frightened by Trump and also less likely to vote for someone just because they have a D after their name. She has to give them a reason to vote for her, and so far she hasn’t.

Of course, the other part of this equation is, why are so many people planning to vote for Trump? I’ll cover that in another post.

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Stuff toRead

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Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

The Friday/Labor Day Weekend document dump is an FBI report on … wait for it… Hillary Clinton’s emails. Politico has released the “12 juiciest bits.” I skimmed this and didn’t notice anything all that juicy, but I’m sure somebody will find something they can blow up into a Big Bleeping Deal.

There’s a lot of complaining today about the failure of the press to cover the presidential election campaigns in a rational way. See Charles Pierce, “Donald Trump’s Trip to Mexico Was an Embarrassment for Our Nation’s Media” and “The New York Times Screws Up Its Clinton Coverage, Part Infinity.” See also Josh Marshall, “Trump’s Blood Libel and Press Failure.”

And do read about Atrios’s afternoon with the Evil League of Evil Labor Economists.

Marco Gutierrez, founder of the group Latinos for Trump, has warned the nation that if it doesn’t do something about Latino Culture, some day there will be a taco truck on every corner. People on social media are struggling to understand why that would be a bad thing.

The presidential debate moderators are set, and Trump apparently plans to just wing it rather than prep for them. The effectiveness of this strategy will depend, I think, on how much control the moderators can keep on the proceedings, and if they have the nerve to ask him follow up questions. But it’s also the case that if he tries to bully her in any way, Hillary Clinton will capitalize on it.

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Justice May Be Blind, But Ethics Needs to See

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Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump’s new campaign team seems to have gotten him focused on a real-world issue that could do Clinton damage — the Clinton Foundation.  “Trump began this week hammering her for the Clinton Foundation, an organization created by her and her husband former President Bill Clinton, which uses private donations to fund aid programs in developing countries.”

I have in the past defended the Clinton Foundation, because it actually has done a lot of good. Unlike some other foundations it doesn’t just hand out grants, but actually implements programs itself to benefit people. And I do not believe the Clintons could get away with using the CF as a slush fund to enrich themselves without getting caught, although I assume they pay themselves from it as much as they are lawfully allowed.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. Jonathan Chait wrote a few days ago,

“Give a man a reputation as an early riser,” said Mark Twain, “and he can sleep ‘til noon.” Hillary Clinton finds herself in the opposite situation: She has a reputation for venality — the merits of which we can set aside momentarily — that forces her to a higher ethical standard. Her inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation show that she is not meeting that standard, and has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem.

The inherent conflict is, of course, that she’s accused of using her position as Secretary of State to sell favors to foreign governments and corporations and friends who donated to the Foundation. And every time some more emails from somewhere trickle out, new accusations blossom in right-wing media.

So far, however, no one has been able to document a direct quid pro quo. But again, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem.

According to experts, the emails confirm donors were gaining access to Clinton, yet there is no evidence she granted them special favors, an important distinction that may determine how damaging the controversy is to Clinton’s campaign.

“These emails show that there was a long line of Clinton Foundation friends who had no qualms about asking the Clinton State Department for meetings, favors, and special treatment,” said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO. “Not shocking, but it is disappointing that there were such blurred lines between State Department officials and outsiders. I see little action on these latest requests, but I think further investigation is needed.”

Bill announced that if Hillary is elected, the Foundation would stop taking donations from foreign governments. What I hadn’t realized was that it stopped taking money from foreign governments in 2009, when Hillary became Secretary of State. But it resumed taking such donations in February 2015, which was just about the time Hillary had locked up the presidential nomination with Democratic Party insiders and money backers.

And, anyway, the foreign governments thing isn’t the only problem. What about corporations like petroleum companies that might want to influence U.S. policy?

Why couldn’t they see that could be a problem? It’s similar to the situation with Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches — why wouldn’t see have seen those might end up biting her? Why was she so determined to not release transcripts? People gripe that Clinton is owned by corporations, and this is why.

She’s gotten away with a lot this year through a combination of dishonest redirection (“Look! a Bernie Bro!”) and the fact that Donald Trump has been running the dumbest presidential campaign in U.S. history.  But when called upon to defend herself from legitimate questions and criticisms, time and time again she’s botched it.

I’ve lost track of the stories she’s given about the State Department emails, when a simple “I had a server set up that was more secure” would have sufficed, and even might have been true. More recently she tried to claim that she set up the private server on the advice of Colin Powell. Then Colin Powell denied this. Oops! On to the next excuse, I guess.

Back to Jonathan Chait:

The Clinton Foundation is hardly a large or unique source of corruption in American politics. It is, however, a source of grubby, low-level access headaches. That is the takeaway from the latest batch of State Department emails. The emails do not show that Clinton Foundation donors received any policy favors from Hillary Clinton or other elected officials. What they show is that people who donated to the foundation believed they were owed favors by Clinton’s staffers, and at least one of those staffers — the odious Doug Band — shared this belief. Band, for instance, called the crown prince of Bahrain, who donated millions to the foundation, a “good friend of ours.” …

…As Ben Wallace-Wells recently observed, the internal culture revealed by the Clinton emails is mostly one of earnest bureaucratic befuddlement, not corruption. The favors amounted to requests for meetings that may or may not have been granted. The foundation’s donors were a class of prospective sugar daddies to be fended off.

At the same time, criminality is not the correct standard to which a public official ought to be held. From the standpoint of both good government and Hillary Clinton’s political image, the correct course of action is to transfer the Clinton Foundation’s work to some other charitable entity with no connection to the prospective First Couple.

Now Bill is saying he will leave the Clinton Foundation if Hillary is elected. That will be necessary, although knowing the Right the Foundation will continue to be a boogeyman the same way they continue to blame ACORN for their election woes, even though ACORN shut down in 2010.

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One-Dimensional News

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Bad Hair, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton

Right now political news stories are all pretty much about the awfulness of Donald Trump. And I’m bored with that. Yeah, he’s awful. There’s no end of how awful he is.

For the sake of defeating the Great Awfulness I’ve been holding back on criticizing Clinton, but there’s not much else to talk about.

Thomas Frank writes that with a Clinton victory a near certainty, you can forget about Clinton leading a progressive administration:

And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything. …

Just a short while ago the American national newspapers were running page-one stories telling readers it was time to take seriously Trump’s followers, if not Trump himself. And on 3 August, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman actually typed the following: “It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust [Hillary] Clinton and are so worried about the future – jobs, globalization and terrorism” that they might actually vote for Trump.

Yes, it scared Friedman that the American people didn’t like their masters any longer. As it has no doubt scared many of his rich friends to learn over the past few years that the people formerly known as middle class are angry about losing their standard of living to the same forces that are making those rich people ever more comfortable.

Well, Friedman need be frightened no longer. Today it looks as though his elites are taking matters well in hand. “Jobs” don’t really matter now in this election, nor does the debacle of “globalization”, nor does anything else, really. Thanks to this imbecile Trump, all such issues have been momentarily swept off the table while Americans come together around Clinton, the wife of the man who envisaged the Davos dream in the first place.

Frank thinks that once Clinton gets her landslide victory she will once again throw progressivism under the bus, and I suspect he’s right.

My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn’t really matter, that Clinton’s many concessions to Sanders’ supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsement, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.

She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street. In her big speech in Michigan on Thursday she cast herself as the candidate who could bring bickering groups together and win policy victories through really comprehensive convenings.

Things will change between now and November, of course. But what seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy. She will have won her great victory, not as a champion of working people’s concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all, as the leader of a stately campaign of sanity and national unity. The populist challenge of the past eight years, whether led by Trump or by Sanders, will have been beaten back resoundingly. Centrism will reign triumphant over the Democratic party for years to come. This will be her great accomplishment. The bells will ring all over Washington DC.

I disagree that this will be the end of the great populist uprising, but certainly Clinton’s victory — made possible by The Great Awfulness — has slowed it down a lot.

In the New York Times Thomas Edsall wrote,

If current trends continue, not only will there be a class inversion among the white supporters of the Democratic Party, but the party will become increasingly dependent on a white upper middle class that has isolated itself from the rest of American society.

Instead of serving as the political arm of working and middle class voters seeking to move up the ladder, the Democratic Party faces the prospect of becoming the party of the winners, in collaboration with many of those in the top 20 percent who are determined to protect and secure their economic and social status.

It’s been that for quite a while, seems to me. It’s just been in denial about it.

Neither Edsall nor Frank have much to say about the Sanders insurgency within the Democratic Party. I don’t know whether it will be a factor going forward or not; that remains to be seen. If progressives follow their usual pattern of crawling into holes until the next presidential election, probably not. If they follow through (as many vow to do) by electing progressives to Congress in the next several election cycles, then there’s hope.

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