THE CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT

Allan Lichtman predicted Donald Trump’s victory — now he calls for his impeachment

Professor who has correctly called every election since 1984 tells why the current president must be ousted

It is debatable whether President Donald Trump should actually be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. But at this point it is no longer debatable that there should be an impeachment investigation.

As Allan J. Lichtman of American University pointed out in an interview with Salon on Tuesday, “Impeachment should only proceed when it threatens the society.” There are three ways, Lichtman argued in our conversation — and contended in his new book “The Case for Impeachment” — in which Trump’s presidency poses a clear threat to the lawfulness of our government:

1. The numerous conflicts of interest that Trump has refused to address (his dozens of trademarks in China being among many examples).

2. The overwhelming circumstantial evidence suggesting collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian intelligence.

3. Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, which would constitute obstruction of justice if it happened — as Trump himself has suggested — because Comey was leading the investigation into the alleged collusion with Russia.

Calling for an impeachment investigation does not require us to prove these charges rise to the level of criminality. It only compels us to prove that there is sound reason to believe they could be true — and unless you are a mindless partisan, that is clearly the case now.

Lichtman himself is something of a celebrity due to his vaunted predictive powers. In 1981 he developed a set of 13 true-or-false questions that assess political, economic, geopolitical and social conditions to determine whether the incumbent party will win the presidential election or not. He has used that model to accurately forecast the outcome of every presidential contest since 1984, albeit somewhat complicated in the years when there was a popular/electoral college split.

As Lichtman pointed out in our interview, the advantage of an impeachment investigation is that it would place the future of an inquiry completely out of Trump’s hands. A special prosecutor or special counsel like Robert Mueller, after all, could be fired at whim by the president. (Consider the case of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor fired by Richard Nixon in the “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973.)

The House Judiciary Committee, on the other hand, is part of the legislative branch, which puts it beyond Trump’s reach. If the committee decides by a majority vote to recommend articles of impeachment for the entire House of Representatives to consider, it would then be up to America’s elected representatives to decide whether Trump should join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton on the ignominious list of American presidents who have been impeached.

Should the House vote to do so, the president’s fate would then be in the hands of the Senate.

Realistically speaking, it is extremely unlikely that a House of Representatives controlled by a Republican majority would ever vote to impeach Trump, or that a Republican-controlled Senate would then vote to remove him from office (barring an unforeseen smoking gun worse than anything we have seen so far, of course).

For a president to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict him or her on the impeachment charges brought by the House. So in the current Senate, even if every single Democrat (and both independents) voted to remove Trump from office, 19 Republicans would have to join them. Yet even with all of the untoward revelations that have come out about Trump to date, only five Republican senators have gone so far as to support the appointment of a special prosecutor.

To be fair, it’s not clear that that the Democrats can be entirely trusted on this issue either. Let’s say that Democrats manage to retake control of the Senate and House in the 2018 midterm elections — a long shot, but not outside the realm of possibility. That opens the door to impeachment in 2019, right? Well, yeah, but if Trump were to be forcibly removed from office before the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic candidate that fall would presumably face off against President Mike Pence, who could very well be free of Trump’s political baggage.

Pence could still lose such a hypothetical election, of course, but he could also wind up benefiting from the public goodwill that often props up new presidents when they take office under emergency conditions, as was the case for Lyndon B. Johnson and Gerald Ford. So Democrats may have a political incentive to keep on harping on Trump’s scandals, but they may have less incentive to drive him from office, even if it becomes clear he has broken the law.

It’s lamentable that partisanship has reached a point in this country where the needs of justice can be ignored due to petty self-interest. And yet, even under this dark cloud, there is a silver lining. It is difficult to conceive of a situation whereby the Republicans would move against one of their own in such a historic fashion. But if they did so, the mere fact that leading Republicans had finally decided that Trump’s behavior was unacceptable would demonstrate the necessity of removing him from office.

Similarly, if Democrats were willing to risk the possibility that Pence could serve as much as 10 years in the White House after Trump’s forced removal (under this scenario, the 22nd Amendment would allow Pence to seek two terms of his own), that would be powerful evidence that they had sacrificed their own political self-interests so as to protect the integrity of the greater political system.

Let us not forget that a recent poll found 48 percent of Americans would support an impeachment of President Trump. If appeals to patriotism aren’t enough to sway Republicans and Democrats in Congress, there is a practical political case that could do so as well. As Lichtman noted, public opinion was crucial in turning the Republican Party against Richard Nixon in 1974.

“Impeachment,” he said, “will only really happen if the people want it.”

There is one final and absolutely critical point to be made here: The case for impeaching Donald Trump exists independent of any criticisms of his policies. As I noted during the interview with Lichtman, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was clearly motivated by partisan and policy disagreements rather than any serious criminal offenses on his part, a fact that makes that event a permanent blot on the legacies of the politicians responsible for it rather than a mark of merit.

“I make it clear that Trump should not be impeached because he’s unconventional, because you don’t like his style or because you disagree with his policies,” Lichtman explained. “I disagree with a lot of policies of presidents, but I haven’t written a book before on the case for impeachment. I quote the great expositor of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton in ‘The Case for Impeachment.’ It points out, impeachment should only proceed when there is such a severe abuse of power by the president that it threatens the society itself.”

This is the situation in which we find ourselves. One can only hope that the Republican and Democratic parties will rise to the historical moment, lest they be proved unworthy of it.

 

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and his work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

What white liberals so often get wrong about racism and Donald Trump

Bernie is wrong and Malcolm was right:

White progressives have a tough time confronting racism — as Bernie Sanders, a hero in many ways, has made clear

Bernie is wrong and Malcolm was right: What white liberals so often get wrong about racism and Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders; Malcolm X (Credit: AP/Craig Ruttle)

In the United States, white liberals and progressives have historically shown a serious inability to grapple with the realities of the color line and the enduring power of white supremacy. Many of them are either unable or unwilling to understand that fighting against class inequality does not necessarily remedy the specific harms done to African-Americans and other people of color by white racism.

For example, last Friday Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke in Boston at the Our Revolution Rally, where he said this:

Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there.

Given Sanders’ long history of fighting for human rights, his comments are profoundly disappointing. They also demonstrate the blind spot and willful myopia that too many white liberals and progressives have toward white racism in America.

Sanders’ defense of Donald Trump’s “white working class” voters can be evaluated on empirical grounds. This is not a case of “unknown unknowns.”  What do public opinion and other data actually tell us about the 2016 presidential election?

Donald Trump’s voters — like Republicans and conservatives on average — are much more likely to hold negative attitudes toward African-Americans and other people of color. Social scientists have consistently demonstrated that a mix of “old-fashioned” white racism, white racial resentment (what is known as “modern racism”), xenophobia, ethnocentrism, sexism and nativism heavily influenced white conservatives and right-leaning independents to vote for Donald Trump.

Trump voters are also more authoritarian than Republicans as a whole. Trump voters possess a fantastical belief that white Americans are “oppressed” and thus somehow victims of racism.

Polling experts such as Cornell Belcher have placed Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton within the broader context of a racist backlash against Barack Obama’s presidency among white voters.

And one must also not overlook how Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and victory inspired a wave of hate crimes across the United States against Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, First Nations people, gays and lesbians and those of other marginalized communities. Donald Trump used a megaphone of racism and bigotry to win the 2016 presidential election. His supporters heard those signals loud and clear.

Sanders is also committing another error in reasoning and inference, one that is common among white Americans in the post-civil rights era. Racism and white supremacy are not a function of what is in peoples’ hearts, what they tell you about their beliefs or the intentions behind their words or deeds. In reality, racism and white supremacy are a function of outcomes and structures. Moreover, the “nice people” that Sanders is talking about benefit from white privilege and the other unearned advantages that come from being white in America.

Sanders’ statement is also a reminder of the incorrect lessons that the Democratic Party is in danger of learning from its 2016 defeat.

Chasing the largely mythical “white working-class voters whose loyalties went from “Obama to Trump” will not win future elections. The white working-class voters they covet are solidly Republican.

Alienating people of color and women by embracing Trump’s base of human deplorables will not strengthen the Democratic Party. It will only drive away those voters who are the Democratic Party’s most reliable supporters.

Sanders has unintentionally exemplified the way that both white liberals and white conservatives are heavily influenced by the white racial frame. As such, both sides of the ideological divide are desperate to see the best in their fellow white Americans, despite the latter’s racist behavior.

This is why “white allies” are often viewed with great suspicion by people of color. Malcolm X discussed this point in 1963:

In this deceitful American game of power politics, the Negroes (i.e., the race problem, the integration and civil rights issues) are nothing but tools, used by one group of whites called Liberals against another group of whites called Conservatives, either to get into power or to remain in power. Among whites here in America, the political teams are no longer divided into Democrats and Republicans. The whites who are now struggling for control of the American political throne are divided into “liberal” and “conservative” camps. The white liberals from both parties cross party lines to work together toward the same goal, and white conservatives from both parties do likewise.

The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political “football game” that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.

Bernie Sanders’ comments on Friday serve as an unintentional reminder of Malcolm X’s wisdom.

Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Donald Trump has successfully buried the story that worries him most  

According to the consensus assessment of US intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, mounted an extensive operation to influence the 2016 campaign to benefit Donald Trump. This was a widespread covert campaign that included hacking Democratic targets and publishing swiped emails via WikiLeaks. And it achieved its objectives.

That this story is constantly forgotten behind a barrage of daily nonsense is both maddening and astounding. At the very least, we know that …

• Trump’s campaign manager worked directly for Russia to subvert the government of the Ukraine, and was paid millions of dollars to generate “spontaneous demonstrations” in which US Marines were attacked in order to give Putin an excuse to seize Crimea.

• The Russian assistant ambassador is on record saying that, despite numerous denials, Russia was in contact with the Trump campaign on a regular basis.

• The only item where the Trump campaign forced a change in the Republican platform—the only item—was in modifying a plank to weaken the party’s stance on opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And Trump representatives said that concern came from Trump personally.

And yes, out there is a supposed folio of kompromat containing items that Russia feels it can use to put pressure on Trump and his team. But even if every disgusting item in that secret file is just a fantasy, how is it possible that this story has completely disappeared?

We honestly don’t know if there’s even any investigation into the Trump-Russia connection.

At Spicer’s first briefing, Anita Kumar of McClatchy did ask, “Has the president spoken to any of the intelligence agencies about the investigation into the Russian connections? And will he allow that to go on?” Spicer replied, “I don’t believe he has spoken to anyone specifically about that and I don’t know that. He has not made any indication that he would stop an investigation of any sort.” This was an important question that warranted a response that was less equivocal—and reporters could have pointed that out.

At the next day’s briefing, on January 24, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg asked Spicer about reports that Comey was remaining in his post and whether Comey and Trump had discussed “the Russia investigation and the parameters of that.” Spicer responded, “I don’t have anything on that.”

That’s what we have. Is Trump stopping the investigation? “I don’t know that.” Has he talked to Comey about it? “I don’t have anything on that.” That’s it.

In the two weeks before the election, it looked as if the Russian story was about to blow up. Reports on October 31 promised that there was an ongoing investigation, that a server inside Trump’s organization was in contact with a Russian bank, and that there was considerable information of Trump’s dealings with Russia which had not been made public. The next day, that story was utterly quashed in a New York Times story citing unnamed “law enforcement officials.”

Those same “officials” completely mischaracterized the Russian email hacking and the intent as it had been determined by the intelligence community.

And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.

Despite this, the New York Times has never revisited the story, or resurrected any discussion of the issues it killed—just three days after it had devoted the entire front page to the story of Comey’s letter on Clinton’s emails.

We’ve also learned that, no speculation required, Donald Trump’s new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed a $500 billion deal with Vladimir Putin that would vastly increase Putin’s ability to exert Russia’s military and economic influence in Europe and the Middle East. Kremlin commentators called Tillerson “a Christmas gift from the American people to the Russian people.” Notice that this gift exchange was strictly a one-way affair.

We know that Russians didn’t just “make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets” as Donald Trump Jr. stated proudly, but that Russian oligarchs bailed out a failing Trump and secured both real estate and connections for their investment. Several Trump projects were Russian projects with a Trump brand.

The money to build these projects flowed almost entirely from Russian sources. In other words, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources.

And that doesn’t even touch on Trump’s involvement with the emails stolen from the DNC and private individuals to assist Trump. In fact, that’s not even close to everything.

Let’s review:

  1. Donald Trump has frequently expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, viewing him as a “strong” leader who Trump “admires.” Trump has also given wildly differing statements on his personal relationship with Putin.
  2. Trump has, on multiple occasions, suggested a weakening of the NATO alliance.
  3. Despite this, Trump previously expressed support for Ukraine.
  4. After Trump hired Paul Manafort, a man who had worked for—and may still be working for—pro-Russian forces seeking to destroy the democratic government of Ukraine, Trump’s position on Ukraine changed to one that is far more friendly to Russia.
  5. Trump campaign staff, including former Rumsfeld assistant J. D. Gordon, halted the implementation of pro-Ukraine language in the GOP platform, and insisted on language that was much more supportive of Russia after saying they had to speak directly to Trump about the policy.
  6. One week after the change was written into the GOP platform, emails hacked from the DNC were released through Wikileaks. Both government and independent investigators have identified the hackers as being associated with the Russian government.
  7. Donald Trump suggested that Russia might also hack Hillary Clinton’s email server and recover 30,000 emails (which are not “missing,” but were personal emails deleted by a team of lawyers who reviewed the server).
  8. Trump later claimed he was being sarcastic, but within a week of his request, further hacks took place at the DCCC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. These hacks have also been identified as coming from Russian sources.
  9. Both Manafort and Trump issued denials that they had anything to do with the changes to the Republican platform, despite the many witnesses and despite having made no objection to the news as it was reported at the time.
  10. Trump, in an interview, seemed not only confused about the two-year-old invasion of the Ukraine, but gave apparently contradictory indications that, were he elected, he would cede the occupied Crimea to Russia, and that the Russians would withdraw from the Ukraine.

None of that is speculation. Not one word of it is theory.

So why isn’t this story getting any attention?

There has been no loud demand from the DC media (or most of the GOP) for answers and explanations. This quietude is good news for Putin—and reason for him to think he could get away with such an operation again.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/2/9/1631858/-Donald-Trump-has-successfully-buried-the-story-that-worries-him-most?detail=email&link_id=1&can_id=83f30841d6d752350b062a4ce92a0935&source=email-donald-trump-has-successfully-buried-the-story-that-worries-him-most&email_referrer=donald-trump-has-successfully-buried-the-story-that-worries-him-most&email_subject=donald-trump-has-successfully-buried-the-story-that-worries-him-most

Is Hillary Clinton more dangerous than Donald Trump?

Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, gestures with Libyan soldiers while visiting Tripoli, during the US-led intervention that overthrew long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, 18 October 2011.

Kevin LamarqueReuters

Actor Susan Sarandon recently caused a panic when she revealed her potential unwillingness to vote for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup with likely Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Sarandon was echoing an attitude shared by many supporters of Clinton’s Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, who say they will not vote for Clinton even if it means Trump becoming president of the United States.

In response, the establishment lost its collective mind.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow blasted “Bernie or Bust” voters for engaging in “scorched-earth electoral portentousness” mired in “petulance and privilege” and “filled with lust for doom.”

The Forward’s JJ Goldberg, in an article headlined “ ‘Bernie or Bust’ is Self-indulgent, Stubborn – and Dangerous,” warned that “[w]hining about [Clinton’s] weaknesses can only depress November turnout and hand Washington to the GOP, lock, stock and barrel.”

And Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast lamented that these anti-Clinton refuseniks are mostly privileged white people with no skin in the game.

Even Hillary Clinton chimed in, tweeting: “Some folks may have the luxury to hold out for ‘the perfect.’ But a lot of Americans are hurting right now and they can’t wait for that.”

It has become accepted orthodoxy in establishment circles to view Trump as an authoritarian race-baiter who would present a major threat to the world if elected in November.

While this characterization is certainly well founded, it ignores the fact that Clinton is also dangerous to world stability. And unlike Trump, she has the blood on her hands to prove it.

If lesser evilism is the goal, as establishment pundits insist, it remains unclear who the lesser evil is – if the choice is limited to Trump or Clinton.

Warrior queen

On many issues, particularly trade and foreign policy, Clinton is to the right of Trump, with an inclination toward militaristic belligerence that more closely resembles a neoconservative war hawk than the progressive she claims to be.

For evidence, look no further than the neoconservatives themselves, who are so petrified of Trump’snoninterventionist approach to foreign policy, they are ready to line up behind Clinton.

This isn’t the first time Clinton has won the adoration of the war hawks.

Back in 2008, neoconservatives breathed a sigh of relief when President Barack Obama nominated Clinton as his secretary of state.

Richard Perle, former chair of the Defense Policy Board under President George W. Bush and a leading architect of the Iraq war, said of Clinton’s appointment, “I’m quite pleased … There’s not going to be as much change as we were led to believe.”

The neoconservative Weekly Standard also celebrated Clinton’s nomination, applauding her evolution from “First Feminist” to “Warrior Queen, more Margaret Thatcher than Gloria Steinem.”

Clinton went on to exceed neoconservative expectations.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he was impressed with Clinton’s work at the State Department, which amounts to a neoconservative seal of approval.

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2014, Dan Senor, a leading neoconservative operative and former foreign policy advisor to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, declared, “Hillary is more hawkish than any of us!”

“Hillary is the neocon’s neocon,” added host Joe Scarborough. “It’s going to be fascinating if she decides to run and gets the nomination. She will be more of a saber-rattler, more of a neocon, than probably the Republican nominee. I mean, there’s hardly been a military engagement that Hillary hasn’t been for in the past twenty years.”

The love for Clinton isn’t at all surprising. After all, Clinton routinely accuses Palestinians of teaching their children to hate while closely aligning herself with Israel’s right-wing, Holocaust-revising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a card-carrying neoconservative whose demagoguery rivals Trump’s.

She has expressed pride in making an enemy of “the Iranians” whose country she once threatened to “obliterate” and continues to threaten with sanctions.

And she likened Russian president Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Ukraine to Hitler’s population transfers before World War II.

Despite her 2014 mea culpa over backing the calamitous 2003 Iraq invasion, and her current effort to rebrand herself as a progressive, the war hawk label is one Clinton is still proud to wear – as when she jubilantly touted this week’s New York Daily News endorsement of her as a “superprepared warrior realist.”

Trail of blood

Clinton’s hawkishness goes far beyond inflammatory rhetoric.

While serving as secretary of state, she greenlighted enormous weapons deals to US-backed tyrants, dramatically strengthening the military prowess of despots who happened to be some of the Clinton Foundation’s most generous donors.

In a stunning demonstration of her failure to absorb even the most basic lessons of the Iraq war, Clinton spearheaded the Obama administration’s overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi based on faulty intelligence.

After Gaddafi’s especially gruesome public lynching by US-backed Libyan rebels in 2011, Clinton could barely contain her excitement, gleefully telling CBS News, “We came, we saw, he died.”

Libya predictably descended into a lawless haven for extremist groups from across the region, including the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

Obama this week called the failure to prepare for the aftermath of Gaddafi’s overthrow the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

As secretary of state and the leading champion of the intervention, that planning would surely have been Clinton’s primary responsibility.

Libya wasn’t the only country Clinton meddled in.

Following in the footsteps of her mentor, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Clinton supported and legitimized the right-wing Honduran military coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, plunging Honduras into record-setting violence that sent thousands of children fleeing for their lives.

Clinton later advocated for the deportation of tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American refugee children who sought asylum in the US in 2014 to “send a message” to their parents that “just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”

Nearly a third of those children had fled post-coup violence in Honduras.

Clinton reiterated her support for deporting them as recently as August.

Indigenous rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres criticized Clinton’s role in the coup prior to her murder by a Honduran death squad on 3 March.

The Clinton campaign denied that its candidate bore any responsibility for the violence, casting her role in Honduras as “active diplomacy.” This week, Clinton again defended the overthrow of Zelaya.

Despite the trail of blood she left behind, Clinton remains confident in the righteousness of US-backed regime change.

Asked last month what she thought about America’s history of overthrowing democratically elected leaders around the world, Clinton invoked the specter of Nazi Germany, arguing, “Somebody could have assassinated Hitler before he took over Germany, would that have been a good thing or not?”

Even Trump recognizes Clinton’s hawkishness to some degree, telling a March rally in Detroit that “the Middle East is burning to a large thought because of Hillary Clinton’s failed policies and her concepts.”

The great neocon panic

In almost surreal contrast to Clinton, Trump has called for reducing America’s military presence abroad and has repeatedly stated his opposition to foreign intervention, calling the Iraq war that Clinton backed “a big fat mistake” that “destabilized the Middle East.”

He even suggested a policy of neutrality in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a proposal he eventually walked back after incurring the wrath of pro-Israel hardliners, including Clinton, who declared, “America can’t ever be neutral … anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being America’s president.”

The neoconservative establishment reacted by launching an all-out assault on Trump.

The Emergency Committee for Israel, a neoconservative think tank, released an ad conflating Trump’s opposition to US regime change in Libya and Iraq with support for anti-American dictators.

Soon after, a group calling themselves the “Republican national security community” published a letter condemning Trump’s blasphemy against the core tenets of their hegemonic principles.

Signed by a cadre of neoconservative intellectuals, former government officials and operatives, the letter criticized Trump’s flirtation with isolationism and opposition to corporate trade deals.

It went on to denounce Trump’s bigotry and torture advocacy, though these complaints can hardly be taken seriously given that the people behind them have for decades advocated torture, bigotry and worse.

Eliot Cohen, who organized the anti-Trump letter, went on to assert, “Hillary is the lesser evil, by a large margin.”

Meanwhile, on the advice of South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Netanyahu is now rushing to sign a bloated US military aid deal, which he previously rejected as insufficient, before Obama leaves office out of fear that a President Trump might not be as generous.

Building walls

If foreign policy separates Clinton and Trump, there are a number of domestic issues that unite them.

Clinton’s newfound enthusiasm for “tearing down barriers,” a direct reference to Trump’s anti-immigrant proposal to build a wall at the US-Mexico border, completely contradicts her own support for the border wall that already exists, much of it constructed on Obama’s watch.

Just five months ago, Clinton was bragging about her support for that wall.

“I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in,” Clinton boasted at a New Hampshire town hall in November.

Asked at a debate last month to distinguish her wall from Trump’s, Clinton pointed to size.

“As I understand him, [Trump’s] talking about a very tall wall,” she said.

Clinton is a huge fan of Israel’s separation wall that effectively annexes Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and has suggested using it as a model for the US border with Mexico.

And she continues to cite her support for Israel’s wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, as a selling point on her campaign website.

Her hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed by Trump, who tweeted back in January, “Hillary Clinton said that it is OK to ban Muslims from Israel by building a WALL, but not OK to do so in the US. We must be vigilant!”

Race to the bottom

In recent months, Clinton has reinvented herself as an anti-racist social justice warrior, using the language of intersectionality and privilege discourse to deride Sanders’ economic populism, distract from her well-publicized ties to Wall Street and distinguish herself from Trump’s hateful rhetoric.

But behind her social justice veneer are principles more in line with Republicans than the Democratic base.

While Trump has called Mexicans “rapists” and mocked people with disabilities, Clinton notoriously called Black children “super-predators” and referred to welfare recipients as “deadbeats.”

Trump wants to ban Muslims. But Clinton has a solid record of advocating for bombing Muslims, not to mention her ongoing pattern of trashing Arabs and Muslims to win over pro-Israel voters and donors.

Trump is riling up fascist sentiments. But he’s doing so by tapping into legitimate anger at the negative consequences of trickle-down neoliberal economics driven by establishment politicians like Clinton.

She played an active role in dismantling the welfare safety net and selling out American workers to disastrous corporate trade deals.

Another four or even eight years of Clintonian economics and military adventurism could well lay fertile ground for the rise of a demagogue even more bellicose than Trump.

A general election between Clinton and Trump would be a dreadful race to the bottom. It’s no wonder so many people would refuse to cast a ballot for either candidate.

Rania Khalek is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada.

 

https://electronicintifada.net/content/hillary-clinton-more-dangerous-donald-trump/16316

Naked Politics: Sanders, Clinton and How to Win When You’re Losing

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 00:00

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, campaign at a rally in Louisville, Ky., May 3, 2016. Sanders has been campaigning heavily in the state ahead of its May 17 primary vote. (Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, campaign at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, May 3, 2016. Sanders had been campaigning heavily in the state ahead of its May 17 primary vote. (Photo: Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)

First, the bare facts: Hillary Clinton won Kentucky by 1,923 votes as of the most recent accounting — MSNBC is calling her the “Assumed Winner,” a new term in the campaign coverage lexicon — and Bernie Sanders won Oregon by close to 10 points with no assumptions involved.

In the world of gambling, they call this a “push.” In short, Tuesday was a tie, though Clinton gained enough new delegates to snuggle up close to the finish line of nomination completion. Sanders has to run the table from here on out and win every contest in a staggering rout to gain the nomination, and that’s not going to happen. On the Republican side, Donald Trump won Oregon by 12 billion points against two guys who aren’t in the race anymore. He didn’t even bother to give a victory speech, but it’s gonna be great folks, trust me, it’s gonna be great.

Now to the hard part: context and consequences. Bernie Sanders is doomed in this contest. That sucks on a wide variety of levels. It sucks generationally because no presidential candidate since Robert Kennedy has done what Sanders has done these last months. He has inspired those who think politics is for old people and suckers to shed their cynicism and knock on doors, make phone calls to potential voters and believe they can actually make a difference in a profoundly bent political system. He has told the kind of truths about the state of this nation that are seldom heard, but are as necessary to this nation as penicillin is to the immune system when a lethal infection has taken root.

For his trouble, Sanders gets called a “thug” on live TV. I’ve been watching politically oriented television “news” programming with dreary regularity since Reagan was elected in 1980, and I’ve never seen anything like what I saw on Tuesday. MSNBC — the ha ha ha “liberal” news network — went to work on the Sanders campaign as if Bernie had shot Rachel Maddow’s dog in her front yard. It went on for hours. The crux of it centered around the mess that went down at the Nevada Democratic Convention this past weekend. The process of appointing delegates from the Nevada caucus was hijacked by Clinton surrogates in broad daylight, and some Sanders people flipped their lids. According to the Sanders campaign:

The chair of the convention announced that the convention rules passed on voice vote, when the vote was a clear no-vote. At the very least, the Chair should have allowed for a headcount.

The chair allowed its Credentials Committee to en mass rule that 64 delegates were ineligible without offering an opportunity for 58 of them to be heard. That decision enabled the Clinton campaign to end up with a 30-vote majority.

The chair refused to acknowledge any motions made from the floor or allow votes on them.

The chair refused to accept any petitions for amendments to the rules that were properly submitted.

Some idiots allegedly threw chairs (a disputed claim) and made threatening phone calls to the officials in charge of this farce after the deal went down, which was stupid and wrong. The very people trying to stand up for the Sanders campaign wound up stabbing their candidate under the fifth rib by giving the media fodder for slandering him, but they were justifiably pissed because it was a bag job under bright lights right there on the stage. MSNBC, which like most every other “news” network is drooling over the idea of a Trump v. Clinton contest, immediately went into battle mode as if the Sanders people had machine-gunned a home for lost kittens. BREAKING NEWS: Sanders Supporters Have Penchant For Violence; Officials Cower In Terror As Residents Flee. The media blitz went on for hours, and is ongoing as we speak.

It was remorseless, relentless “coverage” that entirely overshadowed what actually went down in Las Vegas. The Sanders campaign got jobbed by Clinton allies within the Nevada Democratic Party who didn’t even have the humility to do it out of sight; they stood at a podium and flipped the bird at a room filled with cameras and people who actually care about something beyond keeping their cushy sinecure within the Party. Some of those people freaked out and acted stupidly, but ask yourself: If you were in the room in 2000 when the Supreme Court decided to give the election to Bush, what would you have done? I might have thrown a chair, too.

Bernie Sanders, when confronted with accusations that his supporters were violent criminals, did not back down:

Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence.’ That is nonsense. Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence. Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals. But, when we speak of violence, I should add here that months ago, during the Nevada campaign, shots were fired into my campaign office in Nevada and apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked.

If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned. I am happy to say that has been the case at state conventions in Maine, Alaska, Colorado and Hawaii where good discussions were held and democratic decisions were reached. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention. At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.

MSNBC and the other networks took that “penchant for violence” quote from the Nevada Democratic Party and jumped on it like hungry dogs going after a soup bone. Constant, vivid, inexcusable violence at Trump rallies is good television. A few screwed Sanders supporters crashing the fence and being stupid? Armageddon, on the hour every hour, with “These Sanders supporters did this stuff, let’s ask a Clinton advocate what they think.” Sanders was omitted from the conversation. If no chairs had been (allegedly!) thrown, he wouldn’t have been part of the broadcast. The bias was that dramatically obvious.

Noam Chomsky has spoken for years and at length about the means by which entrenched power narrows the debate. “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient,” he said, “is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” Bernie Sanders scares the hell out of the Establishment, and the manner in which its media mouthpieces cover this sham of an election in order to shove him and his supporters into the woods is as obvious as it is filthy. Sanders is being shamed for what went down in Las Vegas, but Vegas will tell you all you need to know about how easy it is to run the table when the fix is in.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

The Case for Bernie Sanders Running as an Independent

04/29/2016 10:14 am ET

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For the record, I still believe Bernie Sanders will become president, especially since the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and server. According to The Daily Banter recently, “She almost certainly isn’t going to be indicted.” This is about as reassuring as phrases like “It’s highly unlikely you won’t die from this medication,” and “Don’t worry, the brakes on your car have an 85% chance of working.” In reality, what loyal supporters of Hillary Clinton fail to realize is that even best case scenarios (she doesn’t get indicted, but the FBI confirms Obama’s assertion that she was “careless”), will only hurt Clinton’s already low national favorability ratings. Six months before Election Day, she’s not far from Trump in terms of negative favorability ratings, and in some polls, Trump is seen as more trustworthy.

If Clinton circumvents political repercussions from storing 22 Top Secret emails on a private server, and becomes Democratic nominee, there are alternatives for Bernie Sanders. I state the case for Bernie Sanders to run as an independent, if he must, in this YouTube video.

Thus far, Bernie has defied the odds. Vermont’s Senator has already achieved the unimaginable, almost tying Clinton nationally and winning 18 contests. Bernie is “in it to win it,” but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t consider an independent run.

He could win the presidency, running as an independent.

The myth that Ralph Nader gave us Bush’s Iraq War ignores the fact Hillary Clinton voted for Iraq, didn’t regret her vote in 2004, and stated the Iraqi insurgency wasfailing in 2005. According to CNN in 2004, Clinton stated “No, I don’t regret giving the president authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction…”

If the Democratic Party blatantly ignores the values and beliefs of millions, and then risks a mutiny from an independent campaign because of this hubris, then it’s the DNC that must acquiesce; not the voters against Clinton’s neoconservative appeal, or ties to Wall Street.

If you’re a Hillary supporter and fear the repercussions of a Trump presidency if Bernie runs as an independent, then switch to Bernie if he runs an independent campaign. This way, you’ll ensure that your candidate isn’t at risk of an ongoing FBI investigation, and you’ll ensure (since Bernie Sanders defeats Trump by awider margin), that Trump will be defeated. Refusing to support Bernie’s independent run, would also be admitting that you don’t truly fear a Trump presidency; you just want to instill that fear into others.

From war to Wall Street, and flip flops on everything from the TPP to Keystone XL, a great many Bernie supporters will never support Clinton. On a national stage, Clinton has negative favorability ratings in every single national poll. Beyond the confines of the Democratic establishment, it’s a different ballgame. The DNC can’t limit debates with Trump, and believe me, Trump won’t watch his tone.

No, America isn’t a closed Democratic Primary.

Bernie Sanders should run as an independent, if he must, since he could easily win the presidency.

Ralph Nader won 2,882,955 votes in 2000, in a world where gay marriage, diplomatic relations with Cuba, an arms treaty with Iran, and an African American president were seen by millions as virtually impossible. Times have changed, and Bernie is a Democratic-socialist, not a Fox News socialist. That poll you’ve heard cited, even by Democrats, is completely irrelevant.

Bernie Sanders has thus far earned 8,967,401 votes, despite widespread allegations of voter suppression and a DNC that limited debates; stifling his name recognition for early contests.

Most importantly, Bernie Sanders finally enjoys name recognition. Bernie is now only 3.7 points behind Clinton, nationally. This 3.7-point lead includes recent wins for Clinton, illustrating Bernie’s overall strength among voters.

Imagine if the Democratic Primary started today, instead of February 1, 2016.

Bernie Sanders could choose to ride his momentum into November 8, 2016; with independents and Republicans also able to vote in a general election.

Worried about Trump? Bernie beats Trump by a wider margin that Clinton.

Bernie Sanders defeats Donald Trump by 15.2 points. Hillary Clinton is said to be more qualified, but wins by only 8.5 points.

Remember, this 8.5 points is before Donald Trump pivots into a semi-normal human being, where he pretends to care about babies and alludes to the fact he“identified” as a Democrat not long ago.

Also, Hillary Clinton squandered astronomical leads over Obama and Bernie Sanders, losing them both in a matter of months. Name recognition helped Obama and Sanders immeasurably against Clinton, and once voters know there’s another choice out there, they tend to pick Clinton’s challenger. Like Seth Abramson writesin The Huffington Post, “…on Election Day — among voters who’ve been present and attentive for each candidate’s commercials, local news coverage, and live events — Sanders tends to tie or beat Clinton.”

Also, Sanders would easily beat Trump at his own game. Independent voters are the biggest partisan group in the United States, with around 43% of American voters identifying politically as independent.

With around 43% of American voters independent, 44.7% of independents favor Bernie Sanders, while 25.9% choose Trump, and only 8.6% side with Hillary Clinton.

As for trustworthiness nationally, Quinnipiac states that 74% of independents find Clinton “not honest and trustworthy.” Independents find Trump more trustworthy than Clinton, with 65% of independents finding him “not honest and trustworthy.”

Why should Bernie Sanders run an independent campaign?

Because he’d win.

Unlike the battle of lesser evils between Trump and Clinton, Bernie Sanders has the highest favorability ratings in 2016, and 68% of Americans find him trustworthy.

True, Clinton has earned 12,135,109 votes in the Democratic Primary. However, a great percentage of these votes came early on in the primaries, when Americans nationwide, and Democrats, didn’t know Bernie Sanders. Tony Brasunas explains why Bernie’s name recognition matters in a Huffington Post piece titled Only Voter Suppression Can Stop Bernie Sanders:

Bernie is the one national candidate who people like the more they get to know him. As people learn more about Clinton, Trump, and Cruz, they like them less. As the country learns more about Bernie, they like him more. He’s still relatively unknown compared to Clinton and Trump, yet he already outpolls them. Looking at the current trends, one would predict that Bernie Sanders will be the most popular politician in the country come November, just as he is now.

Trump’s candidacy is almost a third-party run; a great many Republicans will not vote for him on Election Day.

Another big issue is the fact 25% to 33% of Bernie voters will never support Hillary Clinton. There are Bernie supporters in America who make H. A. Goodman look like Huma Abedin. Also, the more a pro-Hillary super PAC uses it’s $1 million to “correct” Bernie voters online, the more animosity generated among Democrats.

It’s late April. We have a little over 6 months before Election Day. Bernie is almost tied nationally with Clinton; before the FBI discloses its findings. About 1 out of 3 Bernie voter won’t support Clinton (this will increase), and many Republican won’t support Trump. Bernie Sanders dominates both Trump and especially Clinton with Independent voters, and Sanders also has great support among Democratic voters. Many Republicans also like Sanders.

Establishment Democrats worried about Bernie splitting the votes, or future Supreme Court justices, will have to put their fears to the test and vote Bernie Sanders, if indeed these fears are real, especially since he defeats Trump by a wider margin.

Bernie isn’t Ralph Nader, and he’ll likely be more popular than Clinton or Trump in the polls by November. I explain on CNN International that if you fear Trump, you better vote Bernie Sanders. This sentiment goes for an independent run as well, should Bernie choose to win the White House in this manner. The time is now, and Sanders has come too far, to simply give up if Clinton “wins” the Democratic nomination. Also, if Clinton gets indicted after the Democratic convention, Bernie’s independent run would be assured of the White House. Cenk Uygur is absolutely correct in this segment of The Young Turks. Future indictments only bolster the case for Bernie Sanders to run an independent campaign, if superdelegates still side with Clinton, even with the reality of DOJ indictments.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/case-for-sanders-running-independent-if-clinton-nominee_b_9803982.html

How the Media Totally Botched the 2016 Primary Coverage

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Media saturation helped propel the two candidates into the frontrunner status from which they have never looked back.

By Adam Johnson / AlterNet

March 24, 2016

 

Here we are in late March and it’s increasingly likely the presidential race will be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This isn’t to say Bernie Sanders couldn’t grind out a win, or that the GOP elders couldn’t pull shenanigans at the convention, but as of now, two candidates with the worst favorability ratings in over a generation are poised to be the final options for the most consequential job in the entire world. How did we get here?

First, an important point of clarification. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is not in the same class as Trump’s in terms of media coverage or media cynicism. While she has received over two times more coverage than Sanders, she’s also received 40 percent as much as Trump—much of it negative. She is a high-profile frontrunner with a nominally appealing resume for the job at hand. Still, there are some parallels with how the two candidates’ media saturation helped propel them into the frontrunner status from which they have never looked back.

The Democrats and the Overemphasis on the Invisible Primary

The “invisible primary” is broadly defined as a candidate’s ability to raise money, win over party leaders and generate media coverage all before any campaigning—to say nothing of voting—takes place. Clinton, as a former first lady, senator and high-profile secretary of state, won this primary hands down.

This created an incumbency bias based largely on criteria the Sanders campaign was expressly running against: money and establishment politics. By focusing on funds raised, the invisible primary heavily favors the former, and by racking up superdelegates, it heavily favors the latter—all in a process that is, by design, undemocratic. The psychological effect of Clinton’s delegate lead was seen in delegate totals the media echoed all throughout February and March that gave the reader the impression Clinton was up seven to one rather than even or slightly ahead.

Clinton’s ability to rack up large fundraising totals via Wall Street and Hollywood bundlers and super PACs was thought to be too great—until Sanders’ insurgent candidacy ignited small donors to help propel him to comparable totals. The media coverage followed this, whereas in Clinton’s case it largely preceded it. As I wrote in the New York Times earlier this month:

Who is and isn’t a “serious” candidate in our modern public relations-driven democracy is largely tautological. Whoever the news media say is important early on typically becomes the most important. This leads to a feedback loop that anoints the “frontrunner” in the “invisible primary,” where success is measured by name recognition, money raised, party insider support and a host of “serious” accomplishments, all before the most essential of feedback has been provided: actual voting.

This dynamic helped create the artificial consensus around Hillary Clinton early on. According to one tally of nightly broadcast network news during the 2015 primary season, Sanders received a total of 20 minutes of coverage, compared to Clinton’s 121 minutes and Trump’s 327. This gap would narrow once Sanders began to gain parity in early primary states, a feat Sanders achieved not because of media coverage but despite it.

None of this is to suggest Clinton’s lead is somehow illegitimate. Media bias can influence election outcomes, but it cannot rig them. Clinton’s support among African Americans, and to a lesser extent Latinos is proving to be rock solid. This was largely forged through decades of relationship building, deal-making and on-the-ground retail politics that cannot be dismissed as media bias. The overemphasis on the invisible primary certainly made things harder for Sanders, but no objective reading of the situation can blame it for Sanders’ undeniably terrible performance in the South.

The GOP and the Kardashian Coefficient

Some years ago, Kim Kardashian realized the importance of staying relevant by any means necessary. In our postmodern media-saturated society, so long as your brand remained in the news and people talked about you, you would end up the big winner. One sex tape and $300 million later, this theory has proved to be correct, and it has again in the 2016 primary. Just as with absolute numbers, the positive or negative nature of the media coverage is of no importance. What is important is the distance from 0—or irrelevance—one is at any given time. This idea, which the constantly trolling Donald Trump has exploited to perfection, we’ll call the Kardashian coefficient, or |k|.

Our outrage-chasing media was entirely incapable of combating (or unwilling to challenge) Trump’s troll strategy. The Donald actually laid it out in clear detail in his 1987 bestseller Art of the Deal:

The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you. I’ve always done things a little differently, I don’t mind controversy … The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me.

Trump understood the Kardashian coefficient when its namesake was only seven.

The Raw Numbers

According to a study by the New York Times, Donald Trump has received over $1.8 billion worth of “free media.” By contrast, Clinton has received $746 million and Sanders $321 million.

The Times study also included social media, which may have actually made things a bit too rosy for Sanders, who fares much better on Facebook and Twitter than he does in traditional outlets. Another study that focused solely on network coverage showed Sanders receiving 6 percent of the coverage Trump did on network news in 2015, and 16.5 percent that of Clinton. This is a very difficult hill to climb for any candidate no matter how many Reddit armies they may wield or “Bernie Bros” they may have on Twitter. Most people, especially the older voters Clinton wins by high margins, still get their information from the talking heads who occupy our nightly news broadcasts.

Some Examples of Outright Bias

Bias is always difficult to discern, but there are a few examples of when the media seem to circle the wagons on Bernie Sanders. One of the more obvious cases was when Clinton began to push back against Sanders for his support of single payer, and much of the “wonkish” gatekeeper media did a mini-freakout and published a torrent of stories explaining why the Affordable Care Act was great and single payer was a pipe dream.

The Washington Post ran three separate pieces bashing Sanders’ proposal in as many days while Vox and the Huffington Post quickly followed suit. Virtually no establishment media came to Sanders’ defense. Another example, which went viral, was after the Flint debate when the Washington Post ran 16 negative articles about Sanders in 16 hours. This lead to a rather sarcastic and defensive response of the Post the next day.

Sanders rightfully pointed out on The Young Turks Wednesday night that corporate media is full of conflicts of interests. Comcast, which owns or partly owns MSNBC, NBC, Vox and Buzzfeed has a great deal invested in private health care and has lobbied hard for the Trans Pacific Partnership—both of which Sanders has railed against. Does this affect individual journalists and the stories they write? No, but these types of corporate biases are sure to trickle down to the content in the aggregate. Alternative outlets (including this one) such as Salon, the Intercept and FAIR attempted to offset some of that bias, but the inertia of the inevitability narrative was ultimately too great to combat.

Donald Trump as President After Brussels

The peak of the Trump absurdity happened just this week. In the hours after the Brussels attack on Monday that left 31 dead and more than 200 injured, NBC, ABC and Fox News all had Trump on their morning programs. As Brendan James of International Business Times wrote:

The Republican presidential frontrunner had tweeted a statement about the attacks around 8 a.m., but, as if he were already president, the networks scrambled to get him on-air to talk terror and torture. The magnate candidate seemed to be in three places at once.

“We’re not the victims here; we’re acting like this is our fault,” he said on “Fox and Friends,” which ran Trump’s interview over a live statement from French President François Hollande.

This bizarre series of episodes was corporate media’s Trump coverage essentialized—a combination of disgust and actual serious deference to a man who, objectively, has no idea what he is talking about. NBC even went so far as to prod Trump into supporting the torture of ISIL “ringleader” Saleh Abdeslam, to which Trump obliged. The west was under attack and our proto-Mussolini was in action mode. No need for pushback, followup or clarification. Trump had officially won.

How We Got to This Point

The media failed in two separate but related ways.

On the Democratic side, they failed by giving far too much credence to the inherently corrupt and monied invisible primary and dismissing a candidate who turned out to be both legitimate, and at least in national polls, more popular.

On the Republican side, while they still put emphasis on the invisible primaries with equally dubious puffing up of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, this bad habit was replaced by an even worse one: the Kardashian coefficient and the Troll-Outrage industrial complex Trump brilliantly exploited.

The result is two polarizing candidates and an increasingly cynical public heading into what will be one of the more unpredictable, and perfunctory elections in modern history.

Adam Johnson is a contributing writer at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter at@adamjohnsonnyc.

 

http://www.alternet.org/media/how-media-totally-botched-2016-primary-coverage?akid=14111.265072.Fatvoh&rd=1&src=newsletter1053336&t=2