Tag Archives: hillary clinton

The Many Upsides of Comey’s Termination

President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey has sparked a massive political backlash, and the White House has scrambled to come up with several different narratives to explain the decision.

Given this reaction, one might assume that the Comey termination was an extremely harmful and unjust decision–even by the standards of the Trump Administration. However, a more sober analysis of the situation suggests nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Comey’s firing should offer something for almost everyone to like. Let’s go through it.

Continue reading The Many Upsides of Comey’s Termination

Misdiagnosing the Election

After the election of Donald Trump, the American people have been subjected to several different theories to account for the outcome. These theories have been offered by leading political figures and major media outlets. And each time one theory fails to prove sufficiently persuasive, it is either ratcheted up further or replaced–usually by a claim that is more sensational.

To date, the most prominent theories offered to explain the election have been the following, each proceeding in quick succession after the other:

  • FBI Director James Comey deliberately threw the election to Donald Trump by announcing new investigations into the Clinton email server were occurring a week prior to the election.
    • (Preemptive) debunking here.
  • So-called “Fake News” sites, which were either run or duped by Russia, dutifully reprinted and shared false news that cast Clinton in a bad light.
  • And finally, Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the Russian government to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s Gmail account and shared embarrassing emails with WikiLeaks in order to help Trump win.

As shown in the links above, there is good reason to be skeptical of each of these claims. True or not, however, I would argue they are also irrelevant. In fact, there is a much simpler explanation for why the Democrats lost the presidential election–namely, they nominated Hillary Clinton.

Now, I have nothing personal against the good Secretary–at least no more than I do against any comparably dangerous warmonger. But she was a very weak candidate for the general election. She brought all the scandal of Bill Clinton with a fraction of the charisma. She also had an active FBI investigation ongoing, which regardless of whether one thinks that was legitimate or not, remained a substantial political liability. This was never going to be a strong political combination.

Of course, it is true as her supporters often noted, that she was qualified–if by qualified we mean that she held many high governmental offices previously. Unfortunately, that doesn’t count for much in US politics. Al Gore had considerably more experience and qualifications than George W. Bush in 2000, and he still lost. The same would be true of John McCain who lost to a first-term senator, Barack Obama, in 2008.

Importantly, it should not be a surprise that Hillary Clinton turned out to be a weak candidate. Polling data throughout the primary season consistently indicated this. Clinton’s main opponent, Bernie Sanders, consistently performed better in hypothetical match-ups against Republicans than Clinton did. Notably, Sanders performed best against Donald Trump. Additionally, Sanders’ favorability ratings grew as the campaign proceeded and more people learned about him while Clinton’s favorability decayed as the public gained more exposure. Over at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald compiled a helpful summary of this data from February 2016 here, laying out a prescient case that Clinton had an electability problem. I’ve included a few key updated charts through the end of the election below:

Sanders vs. Trump over time
Clinton vs. Trump over time
Sanders favorability ratings over time (black is positive)
Clinton favorability ratings over time (black is positive)

From these charts, a few observations emerge. Sanders’ lead against Trump was generally and more consistent than Clinton’s–thus, he was comfortably ahead for all of 2016 as the primaries finished. And unlike Clinton, his favorability ratings grew over time and then held constant.

From these simple observations, it also seems reasonable to conclude that Sanders would have almost certainly won the election if he received the Democratic nomination. Clinton supporters might suggest that Sanders fared better in polls only because he wasn’t victimized by the allegedly Russian-sponsored leaks and Comey’s conduct regarding the private server email investigation. But that’s sort of the point. It should not have been altogether surprising that there was additional fallout from the Clinton Foundation and the private server. The degree of the damage could not have been known, but the risk was certainly there at the beginning of the primary. Democrats nominated her anyway, and lost because of it.

Critically, this suggests the election result was not about policy. Republicans may want to believe the election was a repudiation of Obama’s legacy, but at least in the presidential race, the evidence doesn’t support that. If voters were reacting against Obama’s decisions and policies, why would they be poised to overwhelmingly support a candidate in Sanders who wanted to double-down and expand on those very same policies? Clearly, they would not.

It’s also good news for Democrats and center-left elites in the media that have spent the last two months grasping for an explanation of Trump’s victory. It seems they were afraid that voters really were rejecting Obama’s legacy. So as an alternative, they promoted external factors as the cause instead–eventually settling on Russian hacking as a preferable alternative to believing that US public opinion had shifted dramatically right. In the process, these same officials and pundits have been willing to significantly escalate tensions between the US and Russia, as a political coping mechanism.

In fact, there was no need for this hysteria. The reality being avoided is not worth avoiding. Democrats did not lose because Americans suddenly rejected the Democratic policy agenda; Democrats lost because they nominated a bad candidate.

Once more people understand this, maybe we can all take a step back from the political ledge and start focusing on what matters. Donald Trump becomes president this week. The chance that he might ease tensions with Russia is one of the only things we have to look forward to.

Portland Pro-Coup Protester: “Why Not Here?”

Portland, OR–Here in the Rose City, outrage and activism have mostly died down just a couple weeks after the surprising victory of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Once there was courageous civil disobedience disrupting the evening commute and pro-democracy property liberation in the dead of night–occasionally mislabeled by critics as “vandalism”–to dissent from the election of Not-My-President-elect Trump. Now, the streets of downtown Portland are relatively calm. Actions still happen many days, but they are sparsely attended.

One gets the sense that many Portlanders have come to accept the reality of an impending Trump Presidency. An uncharacteristically gloomy and rainy November season seems to reflect their sentiments well.

That said, another interpretation is that we may just be experiencing the calm before the storm.  A major action is being planned in Washington, DC to peacefully disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from President Obama to Trump scheduled for January 20, 2017. Activists who can’t make it to DC are encouraged to hold local actions in solidarity.

In light of these historic plans, The Daily Face Palm sat down for an exclusive interview with one of the leaders of the Portland protest movement, Keith Davis, to learn more about his ideas and vision for the future. Highlights from our conversation are included below, edited as necessary to clarify the responses and make them more inflammatory:


DFP: A lot of skeptics have been wondering what the point of protesting the election really is. What would you say to those people?

Davis: That’s easy. Our stretch goal is to hopefully get the election overturned so Hillary Clinton will become president instead of Donald Trump. It’s the only way to save our democracy. Also, many of us looked into moving to Canada before the protests and decided it’s way too f—ing cold up there. Do you know they actually get snow routinely? Unbelievable. I live in Portland for a reason.

DFP: You probably know what I’m going to ask next? What about the electoral college and the rule of law and all that?

Davis: Look, who should decide the American president? Should it be 270 random old white guys arbitrarily chosen to be “electors”? Or should it be the American people? Hillary won New York and California fair and square, not to mention the overall popular vote. I think it’s pretty clear the people have spoken.

And to be fair, Hillary isn’t the only one who has had victory stolen from her. It also happened to the Carolina Panthers earlier this year in the Super Bowl. The Panther defense held the Denver Broncos to dramatically fewer yards, and everyone knows defense wins championships. Yet in spite of this, the Broncos were still declared the winners because they happened to score more points. Completely unjust.

DFP: Do you believe Hillary Clinton would make a good president?

Davis: I’m not her number one fan, but we must #DumpTrump. The way I see it we were bound to have one accused sex offender in the White House come January 20. I’d definitely prefer it was the first husband rather than the actual president.

DFP: Just to clarify, you don’t actually have to say “hash tag”; our people can add that in later.

Davis: My bad.

DFP: Let’s move on. Some people have expressed concerns that if the election was overturned in favor of Hillary Clinton, the response from the deplorable Trump supporters might be less than peaceful. What do you think about that?

Davis: There’s no question that we’ve seen a massive increase in hate crime violence in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, and it’s pretty clear what has caused it. Trump’s supporters are violent, hateful people like we’ve been saying all along. And his victory has emboldened them to do their worst.

That said, everything changes if Hillary is set to become the new president. Trump’s supporters are all violent racists, but they’re only acting out now because they feel like their worldview has been vindicated. If the presidency is returned to Hillary Clinton, I’m sure they’ll calm down and go back to the gun ranges and NASCAR races they crawled out from.

DFP: Wait, what?

Davis: You heard me. You know, another thing people are forgetting in all this is that the US is the unchallenged expert in political coups. Iran, Panama, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Honduras, Yemen, Ukraine, etc. You name the country, and we’ve probably helped orchestrate or support a coup there in some way.

Now, a lot of those may have been disasters, but everyone knows that’s only because we didn’t stay. If we had a coup in the US, it’d be different because, well, the US government would kind of have to stay wouldn’t they? So our question to the skeptics is this: We’ve given coups and democracy to many other countries in the world; why not here?

DFP: Okay. Got it. My last question for you today is something that’s been in the news a lot. When you’re choosing the nature of your action, why block the roads? Isn’t that just going to make everyone oppose your cause out of spite?

Davis: Yeah, we hear this question a lot. But democracy is something worth fighting for, and if we happen to piss a few people off along the way, so be it. Frankly, since they’re busy destroying the planet by driving home (most of them without even the decency to carpool), I can’t say I really feel that bad for them.

Getting back to your question though, it’s a strategic consideration. Right now, we feel like we need to bring this issue to people’s attention because it may not even be on their radar. We may upset them, but at least we’ll get them to take notice. That trade-off is worth it for us.

Now, if it was a more well-known issue, our tactics would be different. For instance, if we were protesting the US-backed War in Yemen which has killed thousands and made millions of people malnourished, or the scheduling of kratom as a narcotic which created a new class of nonviolent criminals overnight, or even the widespread practice of civil asset forfeiture where people are effectively assumed guilty until proven innocent, then we wouldn’t be blocking the streets. Everybody already knows about those issues because that’s what the media focuses on to get viewers.

But how many people know that we just had a presidential election and the illegitimate president-elect is a racist misogynist with a terrible taste in ties? That’s why we have to be in the streets, to raise awareness.

DFP: Thanks for chatting with us, Keith.

*The individual quoted in this piece is fictional. Any similarities between his expressed positions and those of public figures or trolls on your social media feed are entirely coincidental.

The 2016 Election Is Destroying the Facade of Objectivity

The FBI’s controversial about-face on the Clinton email scandal shines a bright light on one of the most interesting features of the present election: the destruction of objectivity. Or rather, the destruction of perceived objectivity.

Background on Objectivity

When it comes to politics and government, objectivity doesn’t really exist. This isn’t the fault of corrupt politicians; it’s just the nature of the business. Indeed, the Founding Fathers even took this notion for granted. That’s why they endeavored to design a system of government where ambition was made to check ambition. They understood that government would not always and everywhere be populated by saintly individuals acting dutifully in the public interest.

But while our government is predicated on this idea–that government actors will not always be impartial and objective–we do not always remember it. Many Americans are inclined to believe that US governing institutions really are objective.

This is one way to understand, for example, why a larger segment of the population isn’t outraged by the lack of accountability for police brutality. What ought to be a straightforward question of justice and the rule of law falls along strange tribal lines. On one side, what we might call the Blue Lives Matter side, we have people that are essentially saying, “Trust the process”. These people buy into the idea of government objectivity in this area, and generally believe both that a) cops would not kill someone unless they had a good reason and b) the justice system is generally fair and would hold cops accountable if they deserved it. On the other side of the issue, we find people who no longer buy into the objectivity myth, either because a) they have a personal experience that disproved it or else b) they have just encountered too many stories of senseless injustice being perpetrated to still think the system is working fairly.

While actual progress on the police brutality has been slow in coming, libertarians and progressives are certainly making strides in the realm of public opinion. Of course, issues don’t figure prominently in this election cycle. But among the few issues that do get discussed, police brutality is near the top of the list. The reason this is even on the table is because the myth of objectivity has been substantially dismantled, and it now cries out for a solution.

Back to the Election

What horrifying YouTube videos did for police brutality, the 2016 election is doing for many other aspects of the US government and politics generally. Let’s run down the list:

The FBI

When FBI Director James Comey announced the findings of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private emails, the response was predictable. Republicans were outraged that such an alleged miscarriage of justice was done, and some even called attention to a questionable meeting Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, shortly before the decision, to cast further doubt on its legitimacy.  The Republicans were openly suggesting that the FBI made a deal with the Democrats. Meanwhile, the Democrats were delighted to find their standard-bearer free and clear of any investigations, and hailed the FBI for its professionalism. Of course, they would. Even if they truly believed that, it was also in their partisan interest to do so.

Fast forward to Friday, and the narrative is completely reversed. This time, Comey wrote a letter to Congress to alert them that the Clinton email probe had been reopened in a way, as a result of additional emails being identified as part of an unrelated investigation.

Now it was the Democrats turn to accuse Comey of being a partisan hack.

So wait, the FBI Director’s decisions are only impartial when they agree with you? I don’t think that’s how impartiality works…

The reason this matters is that the FBI isn’t usually called into question quite like this. Depending on your perspective, it marks either a new low or a new high.

Too Big to Jail?

The FBI’s political leanings weren’t the only aspect of significance in the Clinton email case. One of the central questions in the scandal was whether politically powerful people will be held to the same rules and laws as everyone else. Comey’s memorable answer, was a resounding, if reluctant, no. Readers may recall these illuminating lines:

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

 …

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.

He could have scarcely said it any more plainly. Yes, there’s evidence that laws may have been broken, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because no reasonable prosecutor would bring the case. Translation: Hillary Clinton is too powerful for the laws to be applied to her.

This is not without precedent either of course. Not prosecuting the politically-connected is a time-honored American tradition. It’s why Ford pardoned Nixon; it’s why Bush officials didn’t get prosecuted for the torture program, and it’s why Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suffered no repercussions for lying to Congress about the activities of the NSA. That said, it’s still rare that the episode garners this much attention.

The Fed

The usually obscure Federal Reserve hasn’t escaped accusations of partisanship or corruption this time around either. Though his own preferences on monetary policy are unclear, Donald Trump has made this a recurring talking point, once suggesting the Fed is being “more political than Secretary Clinton”.

The Elections

Even the elections themselves are being cast in a suspicious light in this election cycle, to a degree not seen in recent memory. Donald Trump’s narrative here focuses on media bias or alleged voting fraud schemes to distort the election outcome. Meanwhile, Clinton’s narrative is that Trump is a pawn of the Russian government, and thus she has alleged the Russian hacking apparatus has been trying to throw the election in his favor. The Obama Administration has also come out to offer a degree of legitimacy to the Clinton narrative by making direct, if oddly tentative, accusations of hacking.

Indeed, we face the very real possibility that, in one week’s time, the official election results will be contested. And either candidate might be willing to try this strategy based on the rhetoric we’ve heard to date.

Consequences for Liberty

What all of this means is that the 2016 election has offered a systematic assault on faith in government and the idea that the government is an objective, impartial actor.

For lovers of liberty, this circumstance represents an incredible opportunity. We already know that the proper attitude towards government is one of deep skepticism. Come November 9th, nearly half of the American electorate is going to agree.