Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hillary vs Trump regarding Wall Street and Brexit



The turmoil in the wake of Brexit particularly with the markets has raised the question of who is better qualified to lead regarding matters of Wall Street, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

I was asked to appear on two shows on Fox News regarding that topic, one on Friday afternoon on the Cavuto show guest hosted by Maria Bartiromo and one Satuday morning on the Cost of Freedom hosted by David Asman.

I want to discuss Brexit in general and what it means for the election and what Hillary and President Obama as well as leaders of other European countries should do but the Wall Street question is an interesting one. Below is the video of my appearance Saturday morning on the Cost of Freedom opposite Mark Serrano.



One of the first things that went through my mind during this discussion is that Trump and his surrogates are trying to have it both ways with Hillary. On the one hand they are trying to extend and capitalize on criticism levied by Sanders and his supporters that Hillary is too close to Wall Street and presumably would favor them too much. At the same time they want to claim she would enact proposals that are bad for Wall Street. That thought was going through my head as I exited the studio and ran into my old friend Jonas Max Ferris who said that very thing to me right after the segment. I hope everyone reading this gets that you can’t have it both ways. I don’t blame Mark Serrano. I think that Trump has a massive problem in general with flip-flopping, contradictory statements and being on both sides of every issue and that sets the tone for the campaign and its surrogates. My last article on the campaign and Trump, “Trump’s Torrent of Flip-Flopping makes Mitt Romney look like Steady Eddie”, http://steveleser.blogspot.com/2016/05/trumps-torrent-of-flip-flopping-makes.html noted that several articles have now been written by reporters doing research into Trump’s statements and the amount of contradictory statements Trump puts out there is beyond bizarre to the point of being pathological. This article by Politico, “Donald Trump’s Greatest Contradictions” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/donald-trump-2016-contradictions-213869 is perhaps the best catalog of them. Politico’s catalog of Trumps flip flopping and contradictions goes on for 23 pages. It still shocks me and I have read it several times now.

But getting back to the debate I had Saturday morning, as far as Hillary and Wall Street is concerned my position hasn’t changed since early in the Democratic primary and that is that to really do a good job reforming an industry you have to have a deep understanding of that industry. Hillary has cultivated that understanding over the last 16 years, not just by doing paid speeches but by having an ongoing dialogue with various leaders and other folks on Wall Street and the banking industry. The fruits of that effort are many including:

  • .      Hillary’s plan to reform Wall Street was voted best by a large majority of Liberal and Progressive economists. In other words, her plan will do the best job of reigning in the bad practices that led to the mortgage crisis and various other issues we have seen in finance and banking over the last 30-40 years.
  • .      Wall Street and the Banking industry feels comfortable that Hillary will address the problems but not prevent or hinder them from ethically doing their business.


Number two will be dismissed by various folks as unimportant or undesirable, but the Financial Insurance and Real Estate industry is over 20% of the US Economy. If you end up crippling or destroying that industry, you better have a plan for recreating that contribution to the economy and the tens of millions of jobs that come with it.

This is the kind of politics I prefer, engaging the people involved and trying to gain a deep understanding of all the facts surrounding issues so you can most successfully deal with them. Demagoguery against Wall Street and the Banking industry and refusing to talk to leaders of companies in both may be good politics on both sides of the aisle but it doesn’t help you craft good policy to address the problems. Of course, with this belief system of mine there was no question of who I would support in the Democratic primary.

On the other hand, Trump has a lot of problems where Wall Street and the banking industry is concerned. They will never forget how he left investors holding the bag for his four bankruptcies. All told, for investments of billions of dollars, investors got pennies on the dollar for such debacles as the Trump Taj Mahal bankruptcy in the early 90’s. Whenever journalists have gone to Wall Street to assess how Wall Street and Bankers think about Trump, they have found a very small group who like him, like Carl Icahn for instance, and a lot of folks who refuse to do business with him. There apparently is even a pejorative term in the industry for how bad of an investment it is to loan Trump money. It’s called “Donald Risk” as Susan Craig noted in a May 23rd article in the NY Times.

Adding to those kinds of problems is that Wall Street values consistency above almost everything else. Given consistency Wall Street can react to and successfully deal with almost anything. But as you can see from the Politico article I linked above, Trump doesn’t do consistency. He is a wild card and you never know what to expect from him. During the campaign he has at times attacked Wall Street and Hedge funds, and then at times he has tried to paint himself as a big friend of Wall Street. You can bet this hasn’t gone unnoticed by folks on Wall Street and the finance industry.

Regarding Brexit, I think for those of us in the US and in other European countries who support immigration and the acceptance of refugees, Brexit was a wakeup call that we need new short and long term approaches to these kinds of issues.

Before I get into that, I just want to point out that while Trump was out in Scotland on Friday and Saturday cheering Brexit and saying the citizens of the UK were right to “take their country back” (all the while hawking his golf course), in 2013 he said something very different as the Daily Caller noted (http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/25/before-the-brexit-donald-trump-was-a-transnationalist-who-wanted-to-leave-borders-behind ):

In January 2013, Trump wrote an op-ed in the cyber pages of CNN enthusiastically endorsing the economic benefits of Europe-wide interdependence and calling for nations “to leave borders behind.” 

“The near meltdown we experienced a few years ago made it clear that our economic health depended on dependence on each other to do the right thing,” Trump wrote in 2013. 

“I think we’ve all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined,” Trump said. “Never before has the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ had more resonance or relevance.” 

Trump also expressed his support for transnational globalism. 
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Everywhere you turn you find a striking example of Trump reversing himself. As I noted earlier, Trump’s contradictions and flip-flopping are pathological, but I digress…

In terms of leaders in Europe and the US who are in favor of immigration and accepting refugees, it’s time to step back and reassess.

I think there are a lot of people in Europe and the US that are uncomfortable with immigration and refugees at the levels they are right now. Rather than doing things like dismissing them or calling them Xenophobes or racists, it may be a good time to examine the impacts and come up with concrete facts and new policies with which we can reassure folks who are concerned.  Studies should be conducted in terms of how some of the new immigrants are settling in and assimilating. We’ve all heard the horror stories, some of which are true and some are no doubt exaggerated. So let’s do a study and find out how big the issue really is. Are there parts of cities in Europe that really have defacto Sharia law being enforced? I don’t think so, and the few attempts to investigate indicate that this isn’t true but let’s take each of the specific accusations and debunk them or prove them. How many incidents do we have of new immigrants abusing women or trying to force women to cover up or obey whatever social mores that existed in their host country but not in their adopted one? How different is the overall crime rate of new immigrants and refugees versus the crime rate of the communities in which they are living? What percentage of the unemployment rate in each city and district can be attributed to new immigrants or refugees if any?

Let’s take a rigorous approach to studying the reality of the situation so we can combat the fear mongering by Trump in the US and by folks in Europe like UKIP’s Farage. We should also highlight the benefits of immigration, globalization and EU membership. One of the more stunning facts to come out of Brexit is that the cities and communities that voted to leave the EU are more economically dependent on the EU than those that voted to stay in it. See this graph from Press Association's John Springfield, Philip McCann, Bart Los and Mark Thissen. 


I think these statistics are stunning. They tell me that those of us in favor of things like the EU and globalization aren’t doing the jobs we need to be doing to explain their virtues in terms of each community.

I also mentioned new policies, and let me introduce that by saying there are many good ideas we could come up with including I wonder whether in the US, UK and EU we are doing an adequate job explaining to immigrants what we expect of them as good citizens. I think we should take specific examples of unacceptable cultural norms in other regions of the world and explain to prospective immigrants that those things are not acceptable in their new homes and that attempting to continue them in their new countries will result in deportation and then follow through on that threat if necessary. I think that’s fair. It should be explained to immigrants that things like female circumcision, harassing or assaulting women who aren’t covered up enough in the eyes of certain cultures, discrimination against people of other religions and race, sexual orientation or imposing religious jurisprudence on unwilling recipients and various other things are unacceptable behavior and will get them deported. I’m saying this as someone who is in favor of tolerance, multiculturalism and diversity.  


In short, let’s address the concerns of those who currently have issues with immigration and refugees and globalism with facts and responsible new policies. We have no choice but to try. The Brexit vote shows the consequence of ignoring those concerns is very likely to be exploitation of them by far right demagogues. I'll leave you all with this additional graphic from Lord Ashcroft polls showing what motivated people in the UK to vote for or against Brexit.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump's Torrent of Flip-Flopping makes Mitt Romney look like Steady-Eddie



People who have followed my writing and my radio show will recall that I have believed from the very beginning of Trump's involvement in national politics, back in 2011, that his positions weren't heartfelt and were just designed to win the Republican nomination. See http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2011/04/08/trumps-birther-strategy-makes-sense-if-you-understand-its-purpose/  where five years ago I called it. 

This past February I explained how I thought Trumps positions on immigration, that he has held for only the last 6-12 months, were part of this "just say what you need to say to get the nomination" strategy http://steveleser.blogspot.com/2016/02/if-it-is-donald-trump-vs-hillary.html .

It's fascinating that the far right, which has lamented not being able to nominate a "true conservative" the last two Presidential elections didn't fight harder to get a genuine conservative (Cruz) nominated when he was very much in contention for a while. Instead too many Republicans bought into Trump's spin, and make no mistake Trump has been out there trying to sell himself as some sort of straight talking Conservative.

Obviously this has worked. He is the presumptive Republican nominee. But throughout this process, he has talked himself into both sides of a multitude of issues. This is what happens when the basis for your campaign is to say whatever you think will get you nominated or elected rather than what you believe.
Sure, everyone says a contradictory thing or two now and again. I think a few can be forgiven. I remember Republicans going after John Kerry accusing him of being a flip-flopper for saying he was for $87 Billion in Iraq war appropriations before he was against it. In Kerry's case, the reason was because the earlier form of the bill reduced Bush's tax cuts to pay for it and thus was deficit neutral. The later form of the bill increased the deficit. 
Kerry didn't have close to the number of contradictions as Mitt Romney, but of course Republicans supported Romney. Now we have Trump. People who are friends of mine on Facebook will note that I have called out a number of Trump's contradictory statements over the last few weeks, but I hadn't realized how bad it has become. The admins over at Democratic Underground alerted me to a few articles on the subject through their "Real Donald Trump" picture above.  Thinkprogress (click here), Salon (click here) and in particular Politico (click here) did a good job of cataloging them. There are so many it's near impossible to discuss them all. Here is a very small sample of the contradictions listed in the Politico article:

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“Politicians are all talk and no action.” (Twitter, May 27, 2015)

“I’m not a politician.” (CNN, August 11, 2015)

“I’m no different than a politician running for office.” (New York Times, July 28, 2015)

“If I ever ran for office, I’d do better as a Democrat than as a Republican—and that’s not because I’d be more liberal, because I’m conservative.” (Playboy, March 1990)

“I’m a registered Republican. I’m a pretty conservative guy. I’m somewhat liberal on social issues, especially health care.” (CNN, October 8, 1999)

“You’d be shocked if I said that in many cases I probably identify more as a Democrat.” (CNN, March 21, 2004)

“Look, I’m a Republican. I’m a very conservative guy in many respects—I guess in most respects.” (The Hugh Hewitt Show, February 25, 2015)

“I’ve actually been an activist Democrat and Republican.” (CNN, October 8, 1999)

“Folks, I’m a conservative, but at this point, who cares? We got to straighten out the country.” (Burlingame, California, April 29, 2016)

“I’m totally pro-choice.” (Fox News, October 31, 1999)

“I’m pro-life.” (CPAC, February 10, 2011)

“Look, I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject, but you still—I just believe in choice. … I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion. … I am pro-choice in every respect … but I just hate it.” (NBC News, October 24, 1999)

“I am very, very proud to say that I’m pro-life.” (Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015)
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As I said this is a VERY small sample, the contradictions in the Politico article go on for 23 pages. Everyone should read them. It's shocking at this point. And sure, some of the contradictions are separated by 10-20 years, but many are not. This goes far beyond standard political double-speak. I think there may be something really wrong with Donald Trump, psychologically. It's hard to imagine how someone could be normal and behave this way.

Whether he is normal or not, someone who does this does not belong in the White House.

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Links mentioned in this article:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/donald-trump-2016-contradictions-213869

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2016/05/24/3781188/donald-trump-simultaneous-positions/

http://www.salon.com/2016/05/18/trumps_korean_incoherence_the_trump_plan_for_north_korea_includes_everything_from_diplomacy_to_assassination/

Saturday, February 27, 2016

If it is Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton in the General Election, Latinos will play a decisive role and Trump will lose



Before I get into the crux of this article, I want to provide some background that I think will make a lot of things clear about why Trump has done some of the things he has done.  After his comments back in the 2004-2005 time-frame that the Iraq war was a disaster, I thought he might run for President as a Democrat. Back then, Trump was a moderate who, in my opinion, could have chosen to run for either party.

The first mistake Trump made in trying to run for President was to decide to run as a Republican. I can imagine some of the reasons why and discussions had by his team as that decision was made, but that's mostly supposition on my part and immaterial. The result of deciding to run as a Republican meant that he had to try to appeal to Republican grassroots.

That would have posed a serious problem for any political team trying to solve the obstacles in his way to getting the nomination. As Trump's GOP primary opponents have said, he had expressed support for many Liberal positions in the past. If he reversed positions on those things he would immediately be seen as non-genuine and a hypocrite. Those perceptions are the exact opposite of those that team Trump was trying to create. His teams goals were to develop positions that Trump could adopt that would both signal to Conservative grass roots that he was one of them and deserved their support and would also not conflict with anything he had said previously.

It was clear to me with the birther position Trump took back during the run-up to the 2012 primary that this was a first attempt to reintroduce himself to Conservative grassroots as someone they should consider supporting. See my article on that here: TRUMP'S BIRTHER STRATEGY MAKES SENSE IF YOU UNDERSTAND ITS PURPOSE

The second position that Trump's team had him adopt was that of being radically against undocumented immigrants having a path to citizenship, and the creation of the wall on the border with Mexico.

Both the birther and anti-immigration positions fulfilled the requirements of endearing him to the Republican base and not putting him in danger of appearing to be a flip-flopper or someone willing to say anything to be elected. In fact regarding the latter, it did the exact opposite. It helped foster the impression that Trump says what he means and doesn't care about being politically correct. This impression has stuck with Trump throughout the Republican primary process and has him on the verge of becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.

The problem with some of the things that Trump said regarding immigration was that they were extremely offensive to Latinos. Trump claims that the media unfairly characterized his statements but I am not sure you can say that. Huffington Post did a good job back in August of capturing, to that point, the Nine Most Outrageous things Donald Trump has said about Latinos and that includes such gems as:


and lest you think Trump's negative statements and opinion was just about Mexicans and not other Latinos:


As a Latino myself, those things Trump said are upsetting to me, but I also don't happen to think that Trump really believes those things anymore than he believed that Obama was born in Kenya. I think this was all part of the salesmanship job Trump has been doing to win over the Conservative base. I also don't think he really understood how offensive those things were that he was saying. That doesn't excuse it. Whether someone really is a really a racist and believes racist things or is just saying race-baiting things for political objectives doesn't change how it makes me feel about that person. I am very unhappy with Donald Trump for having made those statements and I am not alone. Latinos are seething over these statements both here in the US and abroad. This is very important and I am going to come back to that.

Right now if you look to the general election polls describing the results of a potential Trump vs Hillary race, most have it close and some even have Trump winning.  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html I wouldn't pay too much attention to general election polls at this time. As Nate Silver said, A year out ignore general election polls . Polls at this point had Clinton losing badly in 1992 and had Carter beating Reagan in 1980. General election polls don't start meaning something until the summer and even then don't start to completely shake out until early to mid September.

What does give you a hint right now about how the election might turn out is to look at individual demographic groups and use the political parties and past campaigns demographic targets to tell you where someone might have an edge and where someone might have problems.

Past Republican Presidential campaigns have said that their target is to get at or close to 40% of the Latino vote to win the general election. After Mitt Romney's loss in 2012, some of which was believed to be because of his poor showing with Latinos (Romney lost the Latino vote to President Obama by 71%-27%), Republican politicians and pundits for several months afterwards were saying how they needed a new approach toward Latinos and immigration and were willing to change on both counts. One of my favorite statements along these lines was Sean Hannity's:


This was said by Sean one or two days after Mitt Romney's election loss in 2012.

Many Republican strategists came to the same conclusion as Hannity and realized that continuing to anger the Latino community created an impossible situation for them when it came to winning national elections. That is one of the reasons for why the Republican establishment has been and is still searching for a way to stop Trump from winning the nomination. That 40% number is in their head and they are concerned about it and it turns out they have good reason.

A recent Washington Post-Univision poll of Latino voters shows that in a general election match-up, Latinos would vote 72% for Hillary and 16% for Trump. See http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/washington-post-univision-news-national-survey-of-hispanic-voters/1970/ 

Even more telling in that poll is that 81% of Latinos have a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Trump and only 17% have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Trump. Conversely, 67% of Latinos have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton while only 31% have a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of her.


This demographic poll is more telling than a normal general election poll this far out because it not only gave the results of who folks would vote for it provided favorable-unfavorable ratings.  Unfavorable ratings are very hard to change and Trumps unfavorable ratings among Latinos are in the stratosphere. As I said earlier, Latinos are angry at Trump and it's hard to imagine that he can change that significantly.

It's hard to imagine Trump winning or even being mildly competitive in a general election with Hillary Clinton with those kinds of numbers. It's also very difficult to see how he would change those numbers between now and November. It would take years to repair the kind of damage Trump has done to his relationship with Latinos.

In a general election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump will lose and Latinos will play a decisive role in that loss.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bernie Sanders – Snake Oil Salesman Extraordinaire Threatens to Take his Act Nationwide.


Yakov's Elixir, the best that can be had, Yakov's Elixir, it's good for what is bad.
Try this elixir, it's sure to quench your thirst, Buy this elixir, it's best for what is worst!-         Song of the Snake Oil Salesman Yakov sung by Danny Kaye in “The Inspector General” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1yM2babqZs

What to do when a significant portion of your fellow party members have bought into the siren song of a Snake Oil Salesman?

That’s what confronts those of us Democrats who do not buy into Sanders-mania.

A snake oil salesman is someone who sells something knowing that the product cannot do what the salesman says it will do. Before the advent of modern medicine, snake oil salesmen were common, selling everything from furniture polish to lemon-water, claiming the potions would cure all sorts of ailments.

Sanders presents the same picture as a candidate. Sanders is making wild claims about being able to enact single payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition and a host of other claims. 

The problem, for those of us not under his hypnotic trance, is that we know that due to redistricting, the House of Representatives will remain Republican until January of 2023 at the earliest and that is if everything goes as well as possible for Democrats in the next four state and congressional elections. It’s more likely that the House will remain Republican until January 2025 and if things go badly, for much longer.

We’ve watched how Republicans in the House operate. They do not pass bills submitted by Democratic Presidents and they are ensconced in very Republican districts safe from the ire of a public who wants congress to do something. In fact, Republican congressmen get punished if they are seen as helping Democratic Presidents. Several dozen have received strong primary challenges and even lost their seats to primary challenges from fellow Republicans for the sin of seeming to be too open to working with President Obama. That lesson has by now been received loud and clear by the rest of the Republican House Caucus.

All of this is a long winded explanation proving how Sanders cannot deliver on anything he is promising, and what irks many of us Democrats who oppose him is, he has to know this and knowing this he continues to snow his supporters into believing he will achieve something revolutionary if elected.

Even that is getting ahead of ourselves. To get to that point, Sanders of course first needs to defeat Hillary, and then he would face an avalanche of negative ads seeking to define him from the Republicans. The worst part of this is, the Republicans won’t have to lie or exaggerate to do it.

In past elections, I’ve worked hard to defend the Democratic nominee from lies and exaggerations from Republican candidates and PACs. Sanders would present a unique problem for those trying to defend him from such attacks because they will all (or a large majority of them will) be true.

He expressed support for the Sandinistas when they were considered an enemy of the United States. He is a Socialist who was a member of several college Socialist organizations, honeymooned in the former Soviet Union and was so far left he refused to join and expressed disdain for the Democratic Party until he had no other choice if he wanted to contend for the Presidency. He proposes a total government takeover of healthcare and has proposed a middle class tax increase in order to pay for it. The list goes on. The Atlantic’s Paul Starr summed it up thusly:

In 1980, he served as an elector for the Socialist Workers’ Party, founded by Leon Trotsky and committed to nationalizing major industries. In 1989 he said the Democrats and Republicans were “in reality, one party—the party of the ruling class.” That year he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times describing the two parties as “tweedle-dee” and “tweedle-dum” since both subscribed to what he called an “ideology of greed and vulgarity.”

Someone with the above record is a Republican strategist’s dream opponent. To make matters worse, every time he has been asked about his Socialism, Sanders has refused to answer the question directly and instead pointed to countries in Europe or talked about individual policies he proposes that he thinks people will like. That isn’t defining what he believes as a Socialist and it leaves him wide open to others defining his Socialism for him, which Republicans will do quite happily.

I’ve written these things about Sanders since the beginning of his candidacy. My opinion has not changed with Hillary’s win in Iowa or Sanders’ win in New Hampshire. Sanders candidacy presents a heavy lift to get the nomination, can only win the general election if the Republican nominee implodes, and if elected cannot enact any of the proposed agenda with which he is snowing his followers.

Level headed Democrats, i.e. those who have not bought into Sanders’ nonsense, may soon be confronted with a question. What is worse, a Republican who gets elected President now, or a Republican who would get elected in four years after a failed Democratic President who failed to enact anything of an agenda that carried huge expectations with all the baggage that would carry for the party. The perception of the Carter Presidency as a failed Presidency, as unfair as I think that is, cast a shadow over Democratic Presidential politics for the better part of twenty years and enabled three consecutive Republican White House victories. Republicans used the Carter Presidency, again, unfairly if you ask me, to great effect in claiming that Democrats were not up to being able to run the White House.

I will leave the main part of this article with one final thought regarding Sanders’ Snake Oil agenda. Is there anything about the last seven years since President Obama was elected that gives anyone the impression that the country wants to not just move further left, but farther left than any current elected official in the Democratic Party? With the Tea Party, Democratic losses in the mid terms in 2010 and 2014, I don’t understand how anyone could answer yes to that question.


p.s., for the Bernie bros who attack anyone who criticizes Sanders, let me save you the work, I’m bad, I’m terrible, I wrote some contradictory stuff a few years back, etc., etc. There, saved you the trouble.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

And POP goes the Hillary Email Balloon - Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice had classified items in their personal emails too

My, my my. Once again I have been proven to be right, this time about the faux Hillary email scandal.

According to CNN:

Colin Powell and top staffers for Condoleezza Rice received classified information through personal email accounts, according to a new report from State Department investigators.
Hillary Clinton has received severe criticism -- particularly from Republicans and computer security experts -- for using her personal email account while serving as the nation's top diplomat under President Barack Obama. Thursday's revelation about the two secretaries of state under former President George W. Bush gave her supporters an opportunity to claim the Democratic presidential candidate was being singled out over the practice.
The emails were discovered during a State Department review of the email practices of the past five secretaries of state. It found that Powell received two emails that were classified and that the "immediate staff" working for Rice received 10 emails that were classified.
The information was deemed either "secret" or "confidential," according to the report, which was viewed by CNN.
In all the cases, however -- as well as Clinton's -- the information was not marked "classified" at the time the emails were sent, according to State Department investigators.
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more at http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/04/politics/hillary-clinton-email-classified-colin-powell-condoleezza-rice/index.html  
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Well, I'd say that as far as the nonsense about Hillary being prosecuted for this goes, as idiots like Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and others have been insinuating, the chances of that just went to zero percent. Which is as it should be. 
What I tried to tell people is that this entire nonsense was predicated on Hillary being able to tell the future in two respects, knowing that someone was about to send her an email and knowing that at some point in the future, the contents of that email was going to be considered classified. Content that is later classified is pretty regularly sent to non-secure emails throughout all agencies and branches of the government. It's one of the challenges for those trying to protect sensitive information and its a tough challenge to resolve because you can't tell the future. It's as simple as that. 
I also tried to tell people that this has nothing to do with Hillary using a personal email account. I am sure there will be folks who read that last sentence and don't quite understand what to make of it. I will explain. You see, just like Hillary's personal email account, the State.gov email account that she would have otherwise used is not rated secure to receive classified email/information. The same rule violation in terms of safeguarding classified information would apply if the emails had gone to her State.gov email. And as I indicated in the previous paragraph, she would similarly have no way to have prevented it or known beforehand that the contents would later be declared to be classified.
So the whole brouhahah that Republicans manufactured over her use of a personal email account makes no sense at all. I had a debate with a conservative former CIA agent on Sirius radio and when I said that part about the personal email vs State.gov he had to acknowledge I was correct.
For classified communications, you are supposed to use the systems called SIPRnet (For classified up to Secret) and JWICS for Top Secret. SIPRnet was in the news during the Chelsea Manning affair as Manning willy-nilly released classified information from SIPRnet to make some sort of point about something completely unrelated to 99.99999% those emails, but I digress.
Like the IRS scandal and various other "scandals" Republicans found something that had been going on for a long time, or a system that had flawed elements, and then they blamed the current Democratic President and Agency head for it and blew it up into a scandal.
What's clear from the latest revelations from former Secretaries of State Powell and Rice is that this particular attempt at a scandal to hurt Hillary Clinton is over.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hawkeyes must Moonlight as Firefighters Because Tonight they Extinguished “The Bern”

In a state whose demographics favored Bernie Sanders in every way imaginable, certainly more than most other states, a state that was, along with New Hampshire, a must win state for Sanders, Hillary Clinton has pulled out the victory.

Sanders and his campaign will no doubt try to claim they exceeded expectations and were the underdog and all of that, but there is no reasonable argument they can make that they can pull out a win over Clinton or in the general election if they could not win in a state tailor made for him.

I listened to some pundits try and claim that because the result was close the race will go on. They're wrong. With Clinton beating Sanders in a state he should have won and needed to win, the race is over. 

Sanders will probably win New Hampshire, and will likely win Vermont when that state comes around, but Hillary will run the table beyond that.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The anti-Hillary Select Congressional Committee oops I mean Benghazi Select Committee outs itself as a Partisan Witch-hunt

If you want the 5 second spoiler to this article, here it is: According to a CNN/ORC Poll, 72% of the country views the work of the Congressional Select Committee on Benghazi as nothing more than a partisan witch hunt and nothing that happened today changed that.

The joke that was this committee’s supposed hearing with former Secretary of State Clinton was made apparent with two discordant messages from Republicans on the committee. First was chairman Gowdy who tried to claim that the goal of the select committee was to get to the truth and not attack Hillary Clinton. He so badly wanted to get that message across that he used the word “truth” no less than twenty one times in his opening statement.

The first problem with this is that seven other congressional investigations have been conducted on Benghazi. We have enough findings on paper to fill the gold vaults at Fort Knox. We know the truth. This wasn’t about the truth.

The second problem with the “It’s about finding out the truth regarding Benghazi and not about Hillary Clinton" line was Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks visual props which featured no less than several tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the vast majority of which are personal and have nothing to do with the affairs of the Government let alone Benghazi.



So this isn’t about Hillary Clinton with a stack of her emails a foot and a half high on this congresswoman’s desk?  That right there is the tell that explains what this whole select committee is about.

Of course we knew all this from two congressional Republicans who said in the last month that the entire purpose of the Benghazi Select Committee was to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances to win the 2016 Presidential election. Representative Richard Hana said it on October 14 and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said it a few weeks before that. We know this is all a partisan farce.

The news of the day in Conservative media is that Republicans believed they found two or three cases where Hillary contradicted herself.

I was asked about those situations on the Steve Malzberg show on Newsmax TV. One of those is where Republicans claim that at the same time that Hillary was sending out emails calling the attacks a Terrorist attack, in public she was saying something different, that it was about the anti-Muslim video.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Republicans tried to assert some conflict on this during the 2012 President election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Most of the public was smart enough then to see through what the Republicans were trying to sell. It was a confused situation, the anti-Muslim video had come out and caused violent protests at several embassies throughout the middle east, and if the attack on Benghazi wasn’t related, it was a pretty strange coincidence
.
My answer to all of this was simple, Hillary had her suppositions but couldn’t prove anything. She voiced her suppositions to friends and family in emails. I am sure other members of the administration had suppositions too. Until those suppositions were proven, the administrations official line was to be cautious about publicly pointing a finger at terrorism or anything else besides what seemed to be the same reasons elsewhere (the anti-Muslim video).

This should be familiar to anyone working at a company that has any kind of media policy regarding talking to the media about the company. You might have private ideas of things going on but you cannot discuss them with the media without permission and certainly if the folks in charge of media relations at that company aren’t sure about what has taken place. This isn’t that different.

As I said, Republicans have tried to make a big deal of this, but there is no there there. What does it matter what it was called in the confusion of the first 24-48 hours if when we received incontrovertible evidence two days later the correct culprit was called out? No one has as yet told me the difference of calling it terrorism or not terrorism right away. This happened September 11, 2012, the election was November. The effect on the election whether the right answer was figured out on September 11 or September 13 was/would be zero.

Even this amount of space in this article given to all of that is more than it deserves.

Here is the coup de grace on all of this silliness, one of the masterminds of the Benghazi attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala told Reuters before his arrest that the video in fact was the motivation for the Benghazi attacks.  Khattala said:

"The film which insulted the Prophet was a direct attack on our values and if America wants good relations with the Muslim world it needs to do so with respect," Abu Khattala said. "If they want to do it with force, they will be met with force."

There are other things Conservatives are pointing to that are equally silly. The issue raised about the multiple requests for additional security were well answered by Secretary Clinton when she said that the requests went to the folks at State who handle embassy security. Hillary is not a personal or embassy security expert, nor is it a requirement for the SecState to be those things and I don’t think any Secretary of State has ever been those things.

I think it’s fair to point out, when discussing the security of American personnel overseas, that most people crying about Hillary regarding Benghazi are old enough to have been around and opining when over 220 Marines, 18 Sailors and three Soldiers were killed in a terrorist bombing of the Marines barracks in Beirut on October 23, 1983 under the administration of Ronald Reagan. No Republicans in congress or elsewhere cried out for congressional hearings after this disaster. Reagan was allowed to address this with an internal administration investigation only. And as far as warnings go, the American embassy in Beirut was bombed by terrorists only six months before (April 18, 1983) the Marine barracks were hit killing 17 Americans. That’s much more of a clue that Americans were being targeted in Lebanon by terrorists than anything that was going on in Libya. Again, there was no clamoring for congressional investigations on the Beirut bombing by Republicans. No Republicans cried that Reagan was at fault or that additional measures should have been taken or that warnings should have been heeded.

The good news about this for people really interested in the truth is that Hillary sailed through these hearings with grace and with Presidential bearing. If it had an effect, I think this helped her more than it hurt her. What is more true, however, is that if you are one of the 72% who thought these hearings were a partisan witch-hunt before Hillary testified, you are certain of that afterwards, and if you are one of the 23% who thinks there were good reason for the hearings, the supposed contradictions, silly as they are as I noted above, have added fuel to your suspicions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Did the Polling Agencies Take the Night of the First Democratic Presidential Debate Off?

Something is missing from the post debate analysis.

I watched the first Democratic Presidential debates of 2016 and thought both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton did very well. Both exceeded my expectations, Hillary by a little larger margin and I think she won the debate. I posted on my Facebook page my prediction about how the major polling agencies scientific polls would look:
If I had to guess I would say 55% say that Hillary won, 40% say Sanders won, 5% say O'Malley won.
In past debates, the major polling agencies usually had results within an hour or two of the end of the debate. While I was waiting for those results, the online polls sprang up all over the place. To the Sanders folks' credit, they were all over those polls, posting links to them on the Sanders reddits and on Social media and driving up the results for him to ridiculous margins (Some had the results as high as an 85% victory margin for Sanders. It's possible he won the debate in the eyes of debate watchers but not by that much). But as we all know (or should know), online polls don't mean a whole lot and the ability of Sanders' supporters to manipulate these polls shows why.

On the other side of things, my fellow analysts and pundits were almost all proclaiming not just a Hillary Clinton victory but a victory by a large margin. While that felt nice to me as a Hillary supporter and perhaps means slightly more than an online poll for its effect on those who watch or read them, it's still not a scientific measurement of how regular people felt who saw the debate.

So I waited, and waited and waited and finally I realized that no real polls were forthcoming. This is all the more surprising to me because the host of the debate, CNN, has an impressive polling center that could easily have done this. 

Scientific polling is important because the pundits have been wrong about debate perceptions before. I remember watching a number of Presidential debates where the prevailing assumption among television punditry had been that one candidate won and when the polls came out it turned out the public thought another candidate had won. I think this happened once or twice with President Obama's debates with Mitt Romney and John McCain. Most of the time the punditry gets it right but not always.

Perhaps as they day or week progresses we will see some scientific polls released but I am not hopeful. It seems we will be left with meaningless online polls, what the talking heads believe and, egads, our own opinions.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Will Bernie Sanders engage in Demagoguery against Hillary Clinton on the Iraq War Resolution during 1st Democratic debate?

Before I even start, since Sanders supporters tend to accuse people who support Hillary Clinton of duplicity to distract from whatever points they are making, note the two links to previous articles of mine at the bottom of this page where I make the same points back in 2006 and 2009.

In the lead up to today’s first Presidential debate of the 2016 Democratic primary, indications have come from the Sanders camp that Bernie intends to bring up Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote on the Iraq War Resolution to try to hurt her during the debate.

There is so much revisionist history pushed regarding that vote that I bet most folks don’t even know they are engaging in revisionism.

The Iraq War Resolution vote, like UN Security CouncilResolution 1441 that occurred within a few weeks of each other were efforts to pressure Iraq to allow UN Weapons Inspectors back into the country.  Allowing UN Weapons Inspectors into the country for a continuous inspection regime was part of a deal that Iraq struck in order for a cease fire to be put into effect at the end of the first Gulf War in 1991. This deal was enshrined in several UN Security Council Resolutions and were imposed on Iraq because Iraq had engaged in an unprovoked war of aggression against Kuwait and attempted to annex that small country.

In case anyone is unaware, engaging in an unprovoked war of aggression is a war crime.

So the Iraq War Resolution and UN Security Council 1441 were part of enforcing international law against a dictator and country that had engaged in a serious war crime.

There are literally hundreds of media articles backing up what I am saying here. Practically all you heard from June 2002 until December of 2003 in the media were articles and TV segments about efforts to force Iraq and Saddam Hussein to readmit the UN Weapons Inspectors.

Shortly after the Iraq War Resolution and UN Security Council 1441 were passed, Iraq did just that under the pressure of both of those measures. Iraq agreed to start obeying international law. Being that this is the case, I am alternatively amused and galled by the efforts of some to demagogue the vote on the Iraq War Resolution. It accomplished what it was designed to do.

That President George W. Bush misused the Iraq War Resolution several months later and invaded Iraq without justification for doing so doesn’t make the IWR vote bad, it makes George W. Bush a criminal. Congress cannot be afraid to act to support the effort to have countries obey international law because of concerns the President might do something bad one day. The President alone is responsible for Presidential bad acts.

I’d love to hear Hillary Clinton respond to any question about her vote by asking Bernie Sanders, why didn’t you vote to put pressure on Iraq to start obeying international law as it had agreed to do at the end of the first gulf war. What would Sanders have been willing to do to uphold international law in this situation?

Let's turn this around a bit to make this even more clear. If the Iraq War Resolution vote was never held, or had it failed, Iraq would not have allowed weapons inspectors back into the country. That alone would have been justification for war per existing UN Resolutions. The ceasefire terms of the various 1991 UN Resolutions would have been violated by Iraq and thus the ceasefire would no longer exist. 

My previous articles on the subject that I mentioned earlier are linked below and provide additional background. It’s time for folks to stop engaging in revisionist history on this subject, and that includes Bernie Sanders and his surrogates.


12-19-2006: Iraq War - When the Wrong Path Was Taken and What to Do Now http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_steven_l_061219_iraq_war__96_when_the_.htm


3-4-2009: Iraq War - Six Year Anniversary of what Should have Prevented it http://www.opednews.com/articles/Iraq-War--Six-Year-Annive-by-Steven-Leser-090304-145.html