Tuesday, November 28, 2017

One Poll Doesn’t Equal “Polls” & It Doesn’t Make This Clintonite’s Case Either [Updated Below]

Medium Dept. - "Dude Kembro," yet another crackpot Clinton cultist, has authored yet another rubbish article--"Why does media ignore polls showing Dem base still prefers Hillary not Bernie?"--that tries to craft a fantasy of how golly-gee great it would be if Hillary Clinton were to launch a 2020 bid for the presidency, a prospect that no one but Clinton, her diminishing cult and Donald Trump would find remotely appealing. I'm not going to deal with the bulk of his loony ravings but he makes some comments about polling, so I decided to tackle that narrow part of it.

Kembro describes the notion that Bernie Sanders is "the nation's ‘most popular senator'" as an "outdated fiction" based, in part,
"on pushing disgruntled ex-Clinton pollster Mark Penn's monthly Harvard-Harris poll, notoriously unreliable due to its online methodology."
Well, let's see...

--The very YouGov poll on which you're relying as an alternative to Harvard/Harris is also an online poll:



--You provide nothing to support your fanciful assertion that Harvard/Harris is "notoriously unreliable," because there is, in fact, nothing to support that claim.

--While your narrative suggests Mark Penn is some fellow with an axe to grind--some sort of motive for his faking a poll in an anti-Clinton direction, whatever would be gained by that--he is, in fact, a rightist Clintonite loyalist who has been with the Clintons for 23 years. When Democrats lost the 1994 congressional elections, he was the guy Bill hired to try to get things back on track. He worked for Bill right to the end of his administration, worked on the '96 reelection campaign, worked on both of Hillary's Senate races and worked on her 2008 presidential campaign. Only this Summer, he co-authored an op-ed in the New York Times and this was his advice to Democrats, re:the Sanders/Elizabeth Warren challenge from the left:

"The path back to power for the Democratic Party today, as it was in the 1990s, is unquestionably to move to the center and reject the siren calls of the left, whose policies and ideas have weakened the party."

That delusional piece was uniformly derided across progressive media. Penn is both stupid and his views delusional, but any motive he may have to fake a poll--an asinine suggestion anyway--is in the other direction, toward making Clinton look better and Sanders worse.

--The Harris poll isn't some wet-behind-the-ears upstart; it's one of the longest-running established pollsters in the U.S., founded over 50 years ago (when, I'll note in passing, Mark Penn was 9 years old). That doesn't mean it's right, of course. It does mean it isn't some amateur in the field.

--While Harvard/Harris is conducted every month, your YouGov poll is just that, a single poll, and could be utterly anomalous, which happens in polling all the time (H/H isn't immune to it either).

--In line with that last, there are some huge warning-signs within the YouGov results, principally the often-vast number of people who express no opinion. For example, 21% of independents report no opinion of Clinton while a staggering 34% report no opinion on Sanders. A huge warning that there's something very wrong with the data. And you make it even better. You cite the two politicians' relative standing among minorities in the poll and make a lot of fanciful assertions based on it:
"Hillary has a 78 percent favorable rating with Democrats, seven points higher than Bernie's 71 percent. Her 69 percent favorable rating with blacks remains a whopping sixteen points better than Sanders's 53 percent rating with that determinative demographic. Among Hispanics, Hillary's 42 percent rating comfortably bests Sanders's dismal 36 percent."
But the poll shows that nearly 1 in 4 black respondents offered no opinion of Sanders, whereas this was only the case with 8% when it came to Clinton. Clinton only leads in this demographic by 16% and three times as many black folks are reporting no opinion of Sanders as reported no opinion of Clinton. This same dynamic repeats itself among Hispanics. It's astonishing that 24% of Hispanic respondents offer no opinion of Clinton but utterly incredible that 36% offer no opinion of Sanders.

It's also worth noting that your assertion regarding Clinton's lead among Hispanics is comical. While you insist she "comfortably bests" him, Clinton's lead among Hispanics is only 6% in a poll with a reported margin of error of 4.1%, meaning less than 2% separates them, yet you call his standing "dismal."

--The overwhelming majority of "independents" always vote for their favored party and are just Republicans and Democrats by another name. Pollsters call independents who always vote for the same party "leaners," while those who vary their votes among the different parties are called "true independents." Whereas Harvard/Harris combines the leaners with the people who identify with the parties--a methodology that makes sense--the YouGov poll you cite divides these categories, which can seriously distort the data, as the leaners always make up a large share of the vote for each of the parties.

--The YouGov poll used only 1,000 respondents. That's not unusual for these sorts of routine polls where laserlike precision isn't essential. Some pollsters use even less. Harvard/Harris is a massive survey compared to these sorts of workaday polls. The just-released November H/H poll used 2,350 respondents.

--The YouGov poll appears absent context. Whereas H/H has been surveying on the same questions every month all year, YouGov hasn't, as far as I can tell, conducted a single poll on these particular matters for 9 or 10 months before the one you've cited. H/H monthly polls provide a context wherein one can see the various politicians' ratings changing over time. Sometimes--relatively rarely--there are anomalous jumps or dips but they usually seem to work themselves out in the next one. By lining up their polls, we can see that, for example, Sanders' popularity has been in slow decline throughout the year, a pattern veteran poll-watchers will find familiar. Earlier this year, when other pollsters were polling on Sanders' and Clinton's popularity, their results mirrored those of H/H. No other polls have mirrored this YouGov poll.

This is Sanders' current standing in the new Harvard/Harris survey:



And for comparison, this is Clinton's standing in the same poll, tied with Donald Trump's abysmal 38% overall favorable rating:


Sanders leads her by significant numbers in every category except among African Americans, where the two are statistically tied. He even leads her among people who voted for her last year.

Most of the rest of your piece is a Clinton-cult fever-swamp fantasy that has as little connection to reality as the Lord of the Rings. When one reads that kind of unhinged raving about a strange and mysterious place where the press isn't a virtual monolith of reflexive pro-Clinton sentiment, where Joe Biden is somehow unacceptable to Clinton's cult rather than one of the politicians to which elements of that cult are now turning to beat back any challenge from the left, where Clinton is some sort of counter-Establishment figure, where math is such that a single poll equals "polls" but multiple polls that disagree apparently don't and where Bernie Sanders, the lifelong civil rights activist and feminist, is somehow a racist and sexist, one may wonder what color the sky must be in that parallel universe but one isn't going to mistake it for anything resembling our own. To any informed, reasonably intelligent reader, your piece makes clear in virtually every line that nothing you say need be taken remotely seriously. As your nonsense regarding this poll is the only foundation upon which you've built the rest of your fantasy, I just decided I'd correct it.

--j.

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UPDATE (Wed., 29 Nov., 2017) - Kembro had written that the Harvard/Harris poll was "notoriously unreliable due to its online methodology," but after I and others who commented on his article noted that the YouGov poll he, himself, was using was also an online poll, Kembro turned up and removed this wording from his article, replacing it with a description of H/H as "a survey given a poor C- in FiveThirtyEight's pollster ratings due to its unreliability." A little later, he added language that describes YouGov as "a pollster with a solid B rating from FiveThirtyEight." For whatever reason, he also changed his listed name from "Dude Kembro" to "DK Kembro." The current version of his article gives no indication that he's changed any wording.

The FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings chart on which he bases these newly-inserted assertions is long out-of-date--the page indicates it hasn't been updated since 5 August, 2016, nearly 16 months ago. While the chart rates Harris Interactive and that's the rating Kembro cites, the Harvard/Harris collaboration didn't exist until this year. The chart compares the outcome of elections to the final polls preceding them by various pollsters. Kembro apparently didn't read beyond the simple letter-ratings he cites. While he wants to make a case that YouGov is more accurate, YouGov's simple average error is 6.7%, compared to only 5.5% for Harris. YouGov's better letter rating is based on the fact that it accurately called the results of 93% of the races it covered. Harris, the pollster Kembro says is "unreliable," accurately called 86% of the races it covered--hardly a chasmic difference. Perhaps just as significantly, Harris is only ranked based on 135 polls; YouGov is ranked based on 707.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

No, the Fix WAS In... Against Bernie Sanders

From Medium: Back in July, I came across a piece by a Medium Clintonite named Hillary Schwartz, who, at the time, was angry that the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate was making a public show of taking responsibility for last year's electoral loss instead of going the usual "blame everyone but Clinton" route. I authored a rejoinder. Now, she back with another morally-confused mess of an article, "The Fix Is In… Against Hillary Voters." My response:

Well, you've made a real mess of just about everything here. I'm not going to go through all of it but some of it is just too much.

You say Donna Brazile and Elizabeth Warren "insinuate that the Democratic primary process was rigged" and "level… accusations" of same, so let's clear up something right up front: Hillary Clinton used the DNC's financial woes to leverage what amounted to a takeover of that org at a time when it was charged with overseeing a presidential primary/caucus process. This isn't some "insinuation." It isn't some "accusation." It is an on-the-record, nowhere-to-run-or-hide fact. It happened and it was completely inappropriate, which is why it was kept secret for all this time. The DNC worked on behalf of the Clinton campaign and against the Sanders campaign, all the while professing neutrality in that race--a neutrality that is written into the DNC bylaws themselves. Everyone assumed the DNC's appalling behavior--from the debate schedule fiasco to the constant efforts to smear Sanders and his supporters, the business about the data breach, the false accusation of a chair-throwing riot by Berniecrats in Nevada, the insistence Sanders didn't condemn "violence" and all the rest— was a consequence of the DNC, as an independent entity, improperly favoring Clinton over Sanders but it turns out it was even worse; the DNC was, through all of that, merely a bought-and-paid-for adjunct of the Clinton campaign and had been all along. Many have characterized this as "rigging" and others have insisted that isn't an appropriate word for it--you don't address these facts or even acknowledge their existence while trying to wave away the entire matter--but that's a largely meaningless argument over semantics; there's no question all of that bad behavior by the DNC had a major impact on the course of the entire Democratic process, was intended to have that effect and it was all Clinton. And the Clintonite reaction when that became known was the same as it always is: to lie, to lie again then to lie some more, to slander Brazile, to insist Sanders had exactly the same deal with the DNC, to say these extraordinary powers granted Clinton in her agreement with the DNC were only to affect the general election and a half-dozen others that have made the rounds.

Clinton and her inner circle--the people who behave in this manner--are very bad people. You wave Trump as a voodoo fetish but if you don't like it that Trump is using corrupt Democrats against the larger party, then stop supporting corrupt Democrats. If you back these animals, it doesn't make you "illegitimate"; it makes you really stupid.

More than that, the Clinton cult is just that, a personality cult, and when it comes to defending the Cult Queen, the cultists have shown themselves willing to abandon and travesty every progressive principle they profess. They react with great, self-righteous fury at Republican efforts to game the system for that party's advantage then write absolutely unconscionable rationalizations for Clinton and the DNC doing the same thing. Like this:
"The DNC did favor Clinton. But Sanders was running against the establishment, against the Democratic Party. And he got a lot of mileage out of that. How can you run against the Party and simultaneously cry victim when the Party is understandably wary of you? You can't have it both ways. In other words, the dislike between Sanders and the Democratic Party was not one-sided; it was mutual. And if the DNC did push Hillary, Russian propaganda boosted Sanders. So he had the much bigger advantage."
There's been no real evidence of this "Russian propaganda" business but in your hands, it not only becomes true but also something that had a major impact then something that had much more impact than the DNC/Clinton corruption, and you aren't even familiar with the allegations on which you're basing all of this--the alleged Russian activity was centered on the general election, not the primaries, and Sanders was already out of the race. You try to craft some fake impression of a double-standard to use as a cudgel against Sanders and it never, for so much as a moment, occurs to you as you're doing so that this behavior--the corrupt behavior you're trying to rationalize--proves Sanders was right about the party Establishment all along (in his criticism of it that you also try to dismiss). It's far worse than he'd suggested. And, of course, if, like most Democrats, you dislike Republican efforts to game the system to their advantage, you're the one employing the double-standard. You're already very down on Russian manipulation that is merely alleged but give Clinton's on-the-record manipulation a pass.

Following the cult's m.o., there next comes the personal smearing of Brazile:
"There are contradictions in Brazile's claims. In her book, she asserts that the DNC should not have preference for any candidate. She also claims that she thought of pushing Clinton out as the nominee in favor of Joe Biden. So the DNC should not favor a nominee, but she thinks she as interim DNC Chair can personally select one? This makes no sense."
Brazile's comments regarding replacing Clinton had to do with a period when all kinds of rumors were circulating about the candidate's alleged poor health, rumors that, by then, were being further stoked by Trump and then suddenly, Clinton collapsed at a public event. It turned out Clinton had pneumonia and had spent days lying in order to cover up that fact. In the midst of all this, Brazile, facing the prospect of a candidate who was lying and may not actually be able to continue on, says she considered replacing Clinton using a process written into the DNC's charter. She had no power to "personally" replace Clinton and never claimed to have--that's a smear put out by the Clinton camp. Brazile was dong her job.

This is particularly despicable:
"It seems like the Democratic Party leadership feels free to disrespect Hillary voters and the Democratic base because they know we will always be there. They can count on us too much, so what's the harm in throwing us under the bus to appease Bernie supporters, who they can't rely on? I wound up volunteering for the Virginia Governor's race, even though at times I was thinking, why bother? Why should I show up when the Democratic leadership hates me?"
Yes, the party abandoned its own rules to give your candidate every dirty advantage but it's you, the Clinton supporters--not the Sanders supporters who were cheated at every turn--who are so terribly persecuted and put upon.

Or maybe not.


--j.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Despite Clintonite Objections, Populism Works Just Fine

Alex Cyrus has produced an unfortunate article, "Democrats and Republicans are Different. That's Why Populism Doesn't Work on the Left."[1] It's written as a response to a recent op-ed by Bernie Sanders in which the Vermont senator wrote about reforming corrupt practices within the Democratic party. Cyrus didn't much care for that kind of talk, but he isn't really equipped to comment on it either. That doesn't stop him from doing so:
"To be honest, before the 2016 primary I had never voted in a primary, nor did I know, or care to know, anything about the process. I had never heard of a super-delegate."
Those are the key lines in your piece here, as they establish early on that you really have no idea what you're talking about, yet — like Trump — you don't, for so much as a moment, let that restrain you from loudly making all sorts of pronouncements on these things of which you have no real understanding.

You may, indeed "wonder what point there is to discussing the finer details of how one Democratic presidential candidate is chosen over another Democratic presidential candidate running on almost the exact same platform," but any reasonably informed observer recognizes your premise ("almost the exact same platform") as laughably false and understands very well why this is something that matters to any smart Democrat. The 2016 Democratic primary/caucus process was fundamentally corrupt and people were and are quite put off by that sort of thing. Among other things, it makes people stay home on election day or even vote for the other party. "I'm pretty sure," you write, that Sanders is "actually trying to hold up Donna Brazile's book as some sort of worthy endeavor of truth-telling, in much the same way as Fox News" but contrary to what the Clintonite smear-factory has been telling you for two weeks, Donna Brazile is not the issue; her revelations are, and they've been independently confirmed by the press. The real press, not Fox News. You don't know anything about this subject — you write "it's my understanding that the financial arrangement Brazile was criticizing had already been out in the media for over a year," which is entirely false but perhaps more importantly here, you concede you don't even know. The DNC bent over backward to try to tilt the primary/caucus process in Clinton's favor and while we already knew Clinton was using state parties as a front and laundering donations meant to aid them for use by her own campaign via the DNC, what Brazile just publicly revealed for the first time was that the DNC wasn't just aiding the Clinton campaign in utter violation of its own bylaws, it was the Clinton campaign. Clinton had used the DNC's debt at the beginning of the presidential season to leverage a secret takeover. This DNC that was so problematic had been the Clinton campaign all along.

Your ignorance is on display throughout your piece.[2] You write, "Even at Hillary's highest polling point, right after the Access Hollywood tape, I remember reading that no one thought the Dems would take back the House. That's chilling." But there's nothing chilling about that if you understand the means by which Republicans hold a majority in the House: through massive gerrymandering in various states. Like Clinton, they gamed the rules to put themselves on top. And no, you can't be upset about it when they do it but not when Clinton does it. On the question of Democrats' massive losses over the last decade, you write, "What does Sanders propose on this vital issue? Who knows." But you would know if you'd ever listened to Sanders; he says Democrats have to break with the bribery-and-donor-service that presently dominates politics and build, instead, a strong progressive movement that gives people a reason to vote for and be loyal to Democrats. He even outlines an ambitious legislative agenda that could be used to this end. By now, Sanders watchers can probably recite his standard stump-speeches on this by heart but you've never heard of it. "Who knows," indeed.

You try to transform Sanders' critique of the superdelegate system into some sort of attack on voters. Sanders has made crystal-clear his objections. "[I]t is absurd," he writes, "that the Democratic Party now gives over 700 superdelegates — almost one-third the number a presidential candidate needs to win the nomination — the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters." Superdelegates aren't elected as delegates by anyone but have the same voting power as tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of actual voters. Like an utter political innocent, you ask, "But when have the super-delegates ever overturned the 'will of the voters?'" Here's how superdelegates worked last year: Sanders completely destroys Clinton in New Hampshire, winning by 23%, the largest margin in the history of that primary, but because the state's superdelegates support Clinton, Clinton is awarded a tie with Sanders in the state delegate count, the thing that vote was intended to settle. Sanders flattens Clinton in Wyoming, winning by more than 11% but Clinton is awarded 11 delegates to Sanders' 7. Unelected party insiders have been officially formed into a good ol' boys club that is being used to erase the will of actual voters, which is not only offensively anti-democratic in itself, it completely destroys confidence in the process. For anyone who pays attention. In criticizing the superdelegate system, Sanders is standing up for the voters, not, as you would have it, attacking them. He has plenty of support in this as well.

You offer no thoughts of your own when it comes to the superdelegate issue; you merely throw baseless attacks at Sanders for wanting to be rid of them, suggesting he's merely looking forward to some 2020 presidential bid.

Another of those items on which you're confused: "I'm also confused about the purpose served by opening up the party primaries to non-Democrats." Sanders made plain his own reason for advocating this:

"Our job must be to reach out to independents and to young people and bring them into the Democratic Party process. Independent voters are critical to general election victories. Locking them out of primaries is a pathway to failure."

You characterize opening the closed primaries as "muddying the will of the base" but at present, over 40% of Democrats — defined as those who always vote Democratic — are independents. The spectacular lack of wisdom inherent in locking out 4 of every 10 of your own party's base voters shouldn't have to be explained. Those people will be able to vote in the general. You offer the standard arguments against open primaries and it's a matter on which people can legitimately disagree but while you say you, personally would interfere in open Republican primaries if given the chance, you'd be sacrificing your right to chose your own party's candidate by doing so — you can't vote in both contests. That's why few will take that course. At present, 23 states employ some form of open primary and seem to do just fine with it.

To Sanders' call for greater transparency in party finances, you write, "“what finances? Isn't the party in debt without a sous to its name?" Again, Sanders is very clear on his objection. "Hundreds of millions of dollars flow in and out of the Democratic National Committee with little to no accountability," he writes. By the party bylaws, for example, the officers of the DNC are supposed to be able to see the DNC budget and get an evaluation of its performance. In practice, this has been entirely ignored and, instead, the chairman has been treated like a dictator, free to make whatever financial decisions he likes with no transparency and no oversight. That's how, among other things, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was able to sell the org to the Clinton campaign and it was over two years before that became public knowledge. You ask, "What further transparency do we need?" But there's no transparency now and hasn't been for years.


Again, you offer no real thoughts on this issue (another you don't even understand). You merely use this as an excuse to get in some further jabs at Sanders on some entirely irrelevant matters, writing that his suggestion for greater financial transparency in the DNC "is a strange request from someone who still won't release his own tax returns and whose own fundraising system is completely opaque." The release of tax returns is traditionally something done by presidential candidates and Sanders hasn't been one of those for over a year. Now, he's just a senator and senators, like congressmen, virtually never release their taxes. Sanders raises his money overwhelmingly from small donations from ordinary people. This is a thing to be praised and encouraged, not, as here, slighted in some cheap effort to defend corruption. For anyone curious about Sanders' personal finances, he issues a financial disclosure every year. They can be perused here.

You offer a Trump-style persecution fantasy in insisting "the media refuses to ever critique any of Bernie's statements on reforming the Democratic Party." In the real world, of course, the corporate press largely despises Sanders and rarely passes up an opportunity to attack and smear him. Most of the proposals he's made in that op-ed won't get that treatment precisely because they're so reasonable and sensible that few will find cause to take any serious issue with them. It's unfortunate that you've opted to take the side of the corruption Sanders is trying to combat. "I've been a Democrat my whole life," you write, "but I've never been worried about its future until now, and despite mostly ignoring it up until now, I find myself moved to try to defend and protect it." Throughout your article, you demonstrate how little attention you've paid, even while piling on the snark and repeatedly smearing a fellow merely for suggesting this mess needs to be reformed. The Democratic party doesn't need your kind of "help."

--j.

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[1] Cyrus uses this title but his article doesn't even address the matter.

[2] A line about how Americans are "uncertain if the Russians are ever going to let us pick the President again" is a deep dive into tin-foil-hat territory.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This Clintonite Dares Say So; It’s Just That He’s Wrong

Clint Irwin has penned one of the most bizarre reactions to this week's elections in Virginia, "No One Dares Say So: The Bernie-or-else Myth Dies in Virginia":
"Sanders refused to endorse Northam for Virginia governor. Northam won big anyway. Not a peep from the media."
Virginia is an increasingly-blue state and an anti-Trump wave ran through these off-off-year elections. Sanders endorsed Tom Perriello, the much better candidate, in the Democratic primary; had Perriello been the Democratic candidate, he too would have won. The Northam win says nothing about Sanders at all.
"Not to mention: though few in the media dare depart from the false question of rigged-or-not primaries, he did lose to Hillary Clinton by four million actual, real votes from actual, real, living, non-conspiracy humans. No Sandernista has ever disputed this, only kept up a constant veil of distraction with claims and accusations that fall apart as soon as one points to, well, four million voters. (Obama beat her by a mere 200k. But Donna Brazille said the primary was rigged! No, she didn't. It was FOUR MILLION VOTERS that rigged the primary.)"
While it's amusing the Clintonites think they can refute the fact that the primary/caucus process was rigged by pointing to the results of that primary/caucus process, such an approach is hardly enlightening or anything that wouldn't be corrected by a basic lesson in logical fallacies. And, of course, the claim of 4 million votes is a fiction, as there is no meaningful "popular vote" count in a primary/caucus process. Brazile did, in fact, say the process was rigged. She later tried to walk it back but that descended into a pointless game of semantics.
Your analysis of Sanders' policy agenda is no better.

You hint at Hillary Clinton's after-the-fact lie that Sanders was copying her policy proposals; in the real world, it was Clinton copying Sanders throughout that process.

You insist Sanders is advocating "standard Democratic political positions" then lead with single payer healthcare, a proposal that, prior to this year, had no support in the Senate other than Sanders himself; when he'd introduced his most recent iteration in 2015, no one--not one other senator--stepped up to support it. Now--because of Sanders--a quarter of the Senate Democratic caucus has endorsed it. There has long been a significant pro-single-payer faction in the House, including Sanders during the whole of his time in that body, but there, too, most Democrats have refused to endorse it and as in the Senate, the House leadership is opposed to it. Earlier this year, in fact, Nancy Pelosi was circulating memos telling House Demos they shouldn't endorse the idea. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee under Pelosi actively works against single-payer advocates. No Democratic platform has ever endorsed single-payer either and, in fact, it was only a year ago that Clintonite rightists blocked an effort to write it into the platform. You make it sound as if Sanders merely "copied" Vermont's failed effort on this issue but Sanders has publicly advocated single-payer healthcare since at least the '80s, when he was mayor of Burlington and has introduced single-payer legislation over and over again during his time in congress.[*]

How much of a "standard Democratic political position" is "a livable minimum wage"? You point to an ABC News article that is mostly about states offering very modest minimum-wage increases (mostly not up to a livable level), and while you characterize them as "deep blue states," 9 of the 19 listed are, in fact, Republican states. Sanders supports a genuine livable minimum wage: $15/hour. That has only been passed in two states (neither of which have fully implemented it yet) and a handful of localities around the U.S.. Sanders introduced a $15 minimum wage bill in 2015 and only 5 other Senators supported it. This year, he reintroduced it and 22 Senators--nearly half the Democratic caucus--have endorsed it. As with single-payer, Sanders has been leading the way.

You don't like that idea of Sanders as an innovator. Regarding the awful Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, you offer this:
"Did he lead the fight against Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates of money into politics? No. In 2014, well before Bernie made it seem as if he had been the only one who thought of it, Senate Democrats, under the leadership of Tom Udall and Chuck Schumer, fought for an amendment to the Constitution that would reverse the decision."
Sanders has condemned the overwhelming influence of money in politics--which, in fact, long predates Citizens United--for literally the whole of his time in public life. It's been one of the primary themes of his entire career. Citizens United was issued in 2010. Sanders condemned it right from the beginning. In 2011--years before that 2014 Udall amendment you're citing--Sanders introduced an amendment to overturn the ruling, the first constitutional amendment he had ever introduced. At that time, only one other senator (Mark Begich of Arkansas) endorsed it. Sanders has gone on to reintroduce this amendment in every new congress since and made it a major issue in his presidential campaign. Sanders has also supported the Udall effort, though it's much more limited than his own (though you're unaware of it, Udall first introduced his proposal around the same time as Sanders).


This is amusing...
"Since the late 70s, the first test for any new administration is the Virginia gubernatorial race that follows the year after a presidential election. Virginia marks the first chance to say NO! to the new administration and with one exception since 1977, invariably does."
And with that--but seemingly without you, yourself, taking any notice--you refute your own central argument. Bizarrely, you write that "All of Bernie's threats and bullying and demands had not mattered," but you cite no threats, bullying or demands from Sanders in this matter, nor did Sanders offer any. After Perriello was defeated, Sanders didn't have a dog in the governor's fight. He didn't endorse anyone there or work for or against anyone and the election went exactly as, historically, it always does (and as noted, if Perriello had been the candidate, he would have won as well). You seem to be living in some parallel universe when you insist that this race reflects on Sanders then offer a Trump-style persecution fantasy about "yet not a peep from the media" about this supposed major blow to Sanders. "No one. The post-mortems were for the Republicans--but Bernie, once again, was spared." The corporate press, which largely despises Sanders, never passes up a chance to attack him. It's just that this particular race offered no chance to do so.

--j.

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[*] And Vermont's plan wasn't really a single-payer plan, which is part of what made it unworkable and killed it. It's an issue that can really only be effectively addressed at the federal level.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Democratic Party As A Hate Group?

From Medium: Today, I opened my "Medium Daily Digest" email and found what turned out to be a rather curious recommendation; whoever is charged with assembling those digests thought I'd be interested in a piece called "The Democratic Party is America's Largest Hate Group." It's written by someone named Austin Frank and it was apparently published at the end of August. Frank is a rightist attempting to critique the Democratic party and, lost in that fever-swamp wherein dwells the worst elements of the Trumpanzee right, failing badly. Still, it was an interesting day to encounter his piece; the Values Voters Summit is kicking off today in the nation's capitol. It’s an event organized by four of the most prominent hate-groups in the U.S., a platform extended to GOP pols and commentators and this year, for the first time in history, a sitting U.S. President will be headlining there. Even as I read Frank trying to conjure his image of Democrats as some sort of hate-group, we're in for an endless parade of Republican reactionaries, racists, conspiracy kooks offering vile ravings against Muslims, brown people from foreign shores with funny accents, gay people, etc. that will go on for days and is now being given the imprimatur of the highest office in the land--an office not occupied by a Democrat.

Dismantling Frank's fantasy seems a waste of time--let's be, yes, frank, he isn't terribly interested in reality--but it would perhaps be unsporting to point out its fever-swamp quality without hacking through at least some of the weeds. So a few items:
"Democrats' abandonment of policy for a full-blown embrace of identity politics: the party seeks to divide the country into victims and oppressors, and claims its moral authority by purporting to be fighting for the victims. The party's message is no longer 'This is how we will make life better for you and your family,' it is, 'Let's take revenge on the white/male/heterosexual oppressors who are responsible for all the evil in the world today.'"
Hillary Clinton abandoned policy and used a weaponized faux-"identity politics" to attack Bernie Sanders last year. A loud but small handful of her cult is still beating that drum today but the progressives, who have always insisted that politics is about policy, are the dominant faction in the party (even though they don't fill many of its leadership roles yet). Clinton isn't "the left"--she's an opportunist who, politically, is basically a rightist who, because she was hopelessly outgunned on substantive matters (and in the wrong party for someone with her views), tried to use that phony ID politics as a cudgel in a campaign. Your own caricature of "identity politics" is unhelpful and tries to wipe away the reality of baked-in problems re:these matters that need to be addressed. "Vote for me because I'm a woman" is a self-evidently stupid non-starter; desperately-needed law enforcement reform is not. Addressing those problems isn't "punishing" anyone; it's correcting injustice. Attempting to prevent those problems from being addressed--by, for example, presenting efforts to address them as aimed at punishing straight white males--does no service; it perpetuates them. And sides with keeping them.
"Think of the 2016 election: as far as a political agenda went, Hillary’s was forgettable. It was basically 'Uh, What Bernie Said' + 'Let's Break the Glass Ceiling!' The signature moment of her campaign was when she denounced half the country as irredeemable bigots in her 'Deplorables' diatribe. But that's Democratic politics today."
You start, here, by getting very close to the truth then you have to ruin it with more nonsense. Clinton was, in fact, constantly offering watered-down versions of Sanders' proposals then denouncing Sanders' own as unrealistic, undoable, ill-advised (she now tries to rewrite this history and insist Sanders was aping her policy proposals). Clinton's campaign was never about policy. She was politically incompetent and a terrible candidate but she never "denounced half the country as irredeemable bigots"; she said half of Trump's supporters were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic--you name it"--things she (correctly) called deplorable. This was off-the-cuff and although polling data supported her contention, arguably quite politically stupid. That's not any sort of indicator of "Democratic politics today"; it's just something stupid said by one very bad candidate who lost and who never should have been that party's presidential nominee.
"...in reality, the Tea Party was a legitimate grassroots movement with a coherent and appealing political agenda that wound up sweeping the GOP to power in the 2010 midterms. The Tea Party was clearly a success from the standpoint of channeling conservative frustrations and and concerns into a winning political strategy. The Tea Party infrastructure and ethos drove Republican gains in the 2014 midterms and largely carried Donald Trump to the Presidency in 2016."
The Tea Party wasn't a "grassroots" anything; it wasn't even a movement. After all this time, it shouldn't be necessary to continue to have to point out its actual origins in the machinations of well-funded professional astroturfers who, in cooperation with right-wing media, used it to rebrand disaffected reactionaries at a time when the Repub party was very unpopular. That story has been told, re-told and re-re-told--documented all to Hell and back. The "Tea Party" didn't lead to Republican victories in 2010 or any other year. Its fruit-loopy candidates, in fact, cost Republicans Senate seats that year.[1] Democrats have been losing for years in part because the party in the White House always loses in mid-term elections, both in congress and at the state and local level.[2] Repubs will lose seats next year too (although they won't lose the U.S. House, as they hold that by virtue of extensive gerrymandering in various states). The "Tea Party" didn't have a political platform--its creators made a big deal out of not giving it one. It didn't take Trump to the presidency, although many of the disaffected reactionaries who, back then, associated with it certainly became Trumpanzees. It doesn't really exist and, in effect, never really existed.
"Nancy Pelosi is one of the few Democrats with any political sense, seeing as she just the other day unequivocally condemned and disavowed Antifa."
Antifa activists aren't "Democratic" anything and they haven't, as you would have it, "emerged for Democrats post-2016." They've been around since the 1980s, many decades longer in other countries, and are radical leftists, primarily anarchists, who don’t believe in liberal democracy and have no significant sympathizers among the regular liberals/progressives who make up much of the Democratic party. Contrary to your caricature, prominent progressive/Democratic commentators and pols have offered them nothing but scorn.

And Nancy Pelosi, whose reaction to the sweeping 2016 loses in her own party was to go on television and insist voters didn't want Democrats to change, is not a good example of a pol with "political sense."


"Which Democrat politicians have emerged from the wreckage to lead the party forward? 79-year-old Maxine Waters, a rabid, corrupt Trump-hater who calls for impeachment anytime she's near a microphone. Tom Perez, the foul-mouthed DNC chairman who seems to offer nothing but vulgarity and anger. And Hillary Clinton still pops up here and there to blame somebody for her loss last November, or to painfully try to be hip, even though her party wishes she'd just go away."
Smarter Democrats do wish Clinton would just go away. She isn't going to "lead the party forward." But no one ever said she was. Maxine Waters is outspoken (and black) but your singling out of her is otherwise random. Tom Perez was installed as DNC chief when the conservative Establishment wing of the party came to be horrified that Keith Ellison, the favorite of the surging progressives, was about to become chairman. It recruited Perez to prevent that and installed him using some very dirty tactics. As a consequence, Perez is widely despised and at the Democratic "Unity" events earlier this year, was booed by audiences everywhere he went.

Those same audiences were, however, cheering for Bernie Sanders, and it's rather curious that you exclude him from your list. Sanders isn't just the most popular active politician among Democrats, he's the most popular in the U.S. Even Establishment Democrats are trying (though often fairly cluelessly) to ape his populist appeal and he has inspired a whole new generation of progressive candidates who have been throwing their hats into the ring in various races around the U.S.. It’s a mistake to look for some big, prominent leader to show up and make things right with the world--that isn't how political parties should function--but Sanders is the closest Democrats have to such a thing now.
"How can a movement animated by anything other than hatred and disdain produce political cartoons such as this one?"
Politics are primary grist for the mills of comedians and comics and if you're going to write about 'em, it's very ill-advised to be this thin-skinned. Good comedians and cartoonists hold a mirror up to a people and when this works--and Matt Wuerker, the cartoonist here, is often very good--it's because it gets at a truth. Texas is full of rightists who proudly and loudly burnish their conservatism while safely tucked beneath the wing of the nanny state. A slew of right-wing Texas politicians, who spew that same poison and actually voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy then turned up with their hands out to the feds when Harvey plowed through their state. That cartoon isn't born of "hatred and disdain" and it doesn't bother you because of you think it was; its target is hypocrisy and people who are full of shit, and it bothers you because it's true.

You insist "the number of actual 'Nazis' in this country is a rounding error" but you wrote this article at the end of August, in the aftermath of the nightmarish events in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, white supremacists/Nazis/fascists, gathered to show their support of Donald Trump and Robert E. Lee, violently attacked counter-demonstrators. In the end, one of them drove his car into a crowd of those counter-demonstrators and murdered a woman. If he'd had his way, he would have murdered many more. These hate-movements have been surging for years--they didn't like that whole black president thing--and they've been particularly emboldened by Trump, who speaks their lingo and has courted them in ways that would have been political suicide for any other national politician. His immediate reaction to that VA horror was to blame both sides, as if there were two sides in the matter. It took him two further days to finally condemn the animals who actually were responsible and he'd walked back those remarks by the next afternoon, insisting there were "very fine people" marching with the Nazis and condemning the "alt-left." You watched all of this unfold and your reaction wasn't to condemn those white supremacists/Nazis/fascists or to condemn Trump for his own unconscionable behavior but to write this article in which you crafted a fantasy of the Democratic party as a big hate-group.

That speaks for itself.

--j.

---

[1] That year, Republicans had potential Senate victories in Colorado, Nevada, California, Delaware and Alaska but lost all of them because of nutty "Tea Party" candidates.

[2] That isn't, by any means, to say this is the Democratic party’s only problem but it's the place to start when it comes to evaluating those losses.

Monday, October 2, 2017

If You Aren't Blaming Hillary, You Aren't Paying Any Attention

Hillary Clinton's view is that she isn't at all responsible for what happened in 2016 and she and her circle of loyalists have used this premise as a bedrock foundation on which to construct a series of often-contradictory, disingenuous and counter-factual narratives collectively adding up to one larger exculpatory myth. Her personality cult has dutifully treated all of this as if it were revealed religion but no serious analysis of 2016 can avoid the centrality of Clinton herself to her own loss.

While certainly not one of the more obnoxious Clinton cultists, Mark Olmsted still often repeats and carries water for their narratives. Witness his recent piece entitled and on the theme "If you're still blaming Hillary, you're asking the wrong questions." Of the many targets Clinton has chosen to blame for her own loss, Olmsted chooses as his primary focus the voters. "In the end," he writes, "there is no getting around the bizarre truth about 46% of the American electorate went temporarily insane, frankly."

That, of course, refers to voters during the general election, and it's no accident that this entirely ignores Democratic primary voters who sided with Clinton, a weak, loser candidate whose disgraceful 2008 campaign had already established to the satisfaction of any reasonable observer that she was a terrible campaigner, a terrible person and entirely unfit for the office. Even if one isn't old enough to have experienced that campaign as an adult, her weakness was positively screaming from the data every step of the way, long before any votes had even been cast. If any group of voters are to blame for 2016, it's the ones Olmsted avoids, those who suicidally closed their eyes to all of that and backed her. With their decision, they, in effect, elected Trump.

If one is conducting a proper autopsy of 2016 though, blaming voters doesn't really get one anywhere. Clinton has made it quite clear she feels she was entitled to the votes of people who didn't wish to give them to her but the only point in following her down that rabbit-hole is to absolve her of any real responsibility for what happened. That isn't just obnoxious and indefensible in itself, the implications of it, if Demos opt to roll with it, are that there's no need to for Democrats to reform and try to improve their party. Such a course of action--or, more precisely, a lack of one--would prove catastrophic for the party and its candidates, already in a state of crisis.

Olmsted:

"The premise is that Trump was so awful that it should have been laughable [sic] easy to defeat him. Everyone on the Democratic side actually agreed with this when she ran, which is why they concentrated so hard on making her campaign about Caligulyam's awfulness. But the same articles upbraid Clinton for this strategy, citing the real problem as her not offering a positive vision to enthuse the voters."

It's unclear what "articles" Olmsted is referencing here--whatever he may have in mind he never cites--but he has no real response to the criticism of Clinton in this either:

"This sidesteps the fact that the level of irrationality was arguably the highest among previous Obama voters who switched to Trump. Clinton was endorsed by Obama and pledged to continue his same policies. This part of the electorate wasn’t voting for or against policy--however it had been delivered."

Besides entirely dodging the criticism of Clinton he's allegedly trying to refute, this is a comically superficial analysis that makes no use of the abundant available data on these matters. A few points:

--Clinton's 2008 campaign against Obama was unspeakably ugly. Clinton repeatedly race-baited Obama, Muslim-baited him (at one point, circulating a photo of Obama in traditional Somali garb, laying the groundwork for 8 years of right-wing attacks aimed at Other-ing him), insisted white voters would never support him, even publicly offered fantasies about Obama being murdered. When voters went, instead, with Obama (whatever their feelings about him), they thought they'd rejected that appalling candidate, and even if Clinton's latest reinvention of herself is as the embodiment of the Obama legacy, people do sometimes remember.

--That effort by Clinton to draw such a close association with Obama was, in some quarters, to Clinton's doom. People simply become tired of a long-running incumbent. At the end of an 8-year administration, the opposition party invariably tries to tie the candidate of the incumbent party to the fellow already in the White House. The campaign always runs like this: "Do you really want four more years of this?"[1] In going Faux-bama, Clinton stupidly did the GOP's work for it.[2]

--People don't believe Hillary Clinton and don't trust her. That's the one thing that sticks out of her polling data above all other things; it couldn't have been clearer if it had appeared in bold, neon letters 30 feet high. Clinton was not considered honest or trustworthy. She was (correctly) perceived as an unprincipled opportunist who would say whatever she thought would be to her benefit at any given moment. That's crippling in itself. On this particular matter, no one had any reason to believe her effort to position herself as Obama's legacy would prove to be any more genuine than anything else she's ever said.

--Clinton wasn't "offering a positive vision" in the race. Her campaign ads were overwhelmingly just personal attacks on Trump. The most substance-free, in fact, in recent memory, maybe ever--per the Wesleyan Media Project, only 25% of Clinton's ads even mention policy. Olmsted's suggestion that "everyone on the Democratic side actually agreed with" focusing on "Trump's awfulness" instead of policy is laughable. The entire Democratic primary was about Bernie Sanders' efforts to get the Democratic party to adopt a positive, progressive vision for the future. At the Democratic National Committee Summer meeting in August 2015, he flat-out said that without one, Democrats would lose the White House, fail to regain the Senate and lose in the states. "The same old, same old will not be successful." Utterly--and tragically--prescient. Clinton's enthusiasm-murdering, defeatist, diminished-expectations primary campaign against Bernie Sanders yielded to her just as uninspiring "I suck less than Trump" campaign in the general. As vile as Trump undeniably was and is, he was talking about policy and even ran to Clinton's left on several key issues and as meaningless as his words may have been, he gave some little glimmer of hope to people who were angry, hurting and needing it, while the other side wasn't offering anything.[3]

--Olmsted singles out those who had previously voted for Obama then switched to Trump. There's some pretty good data on these voters courtesy of the Clintonite super PAC Priorities USA, which surveyed both the Obama-to-Trump voters and the larger body of voters who had previously supported Obama but sat out 2016 rather than cast a vote for Clinton. Its findings are devastating. Obama-to-Trump voters are people being left behind by the economy; 50% report their income is falling behind the cost of living (only 19% report it growing faster). Priorities USA breaks down O/T voters into those who say they strongly support Trump vs. those who say they have mixed feelings about him. The problem of having the unfortunate Clinton representing the Democratic ticket looms large indeed:


It's when one gets to the specific policy concerns of the O/T voters that things get particularly ugly:


With the exception of the two highlighted items, which are only prioritized by a plurality of those who say they strongly support Trump, it's a laundry-list of progressive priorities, things that would have credibly been Democratic priorities if Democrats hadn't gone with Clinton. "Why should we think," asks Olmsted, "that Sanders' message would have resonated with these same voters, even though Sanders' endorsement of Clinton (and campaigning for her) were unable to sway them?" The chart answers that question fairly decisively.

The data on those who voted for Obama then sat out 2016 are even worse. The drop-off voters are strongly Democratic; 70% of them say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic party (28% very favorable), 74% say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party (47% very unfavorable) and 82% have an unfavorable view of Trump (73% very unfavorable). Their priorities are even more progressive.

One of the instances in which Priorities USA gets cutesy with the data is in its presentation on why the drop-offs didn't vote, which it only breaks down by when they made their decision instead of by why, offering only a handful of anecdotes for the latter. This, which one strongly suspects is just an effort to fudge the extent to which Clinton was the problem with these voters, reminds one that this is, after all, a pro-Clinton org telling the tale. Still, Priorities USA, to its credit, has done a far better job of examining this matter than some.[4]

The election was lost in the Rust Belt and as Konstantin Kilibarda and Daria Roithmayr documented in Slate, that's the correct way to describe what happened; Trump didn't win previously Democratic voters, Democrats lost them. "In the Rust Belt, Democrats lost 1.35 million voters. Trump picked up less than half, at 590,000. The rest stayed home or voted for someone other than the major party candidates." There are probably a lot of things behind this and the thing that's probably most behind it is Clinton.

--Trump should have been a ridiculously simple opponent to defeat. Olmsted himself describes Trump's awfulness. There's no way around the fact that Trump was just a reality-show clown who had the highest negatives of any major-party presidential candidate in the history of polling. On election day, an average of 57.1% had an unfavorable view of him. When he defeated Clinton, her own average was 55% unfavorable, and well before the end, Trump was polling better than her on the issue of honesty, an important fact that is almost universally overlooked.

Olmsted attempts to counter the idea that Sanders would have done better than Clinton against Trump but as before, he's doing so without reference to a single fact, even though there is substantial and readily-available data on that question:

https://extranewsfeed.com/yes-sanders-would-have-won-exploding-false-clintonite-narratives-7c5a6bd17091

Obviously, one can never say with certainly how this sort of hypothetical scenario would have played out but anyone arguing Sanders would have done worse than Clinton doesn’t just do so without any supporting data, he does so in the face of all of the data.

"...if we’re still trying to figure out why Trump won," Olmsted writes, "can we just retire the laundry list of Clinton’s mistakes as the focus of the blame?"[5] But he's made no real case for doing so, and to note the obvious, an analysis that blames voters for being "insane" isn't of any value in helping guide Democrats moving forward. Clinton ran one of the historically bad campaigns. The decision to value loyalty over competence and to surround herself with yes-men and morons was hers. She was the one who opted to run that defeatist primary campaign and that "I suck less than Trump" general wherein her strategy was aimed at appealing to Republican voters. She was the one who was going out of her way at every turn to try to utterly alienate the progressive base of the Democratic party. The ongoing FBI investigation into her State Department emails was also a swamp of her own making; she was the one who chose, in an incredibly reckless manner, to set up that private server in her basement as a means of evading pubic records requirements and she was the one who ensured it was a constant presence in the news by lying about it at every turn. Her decision to run in the first place was entirely irresponsible. The truth about 2016 is that Clinton was just a politically inept, terminally out-of-touch narcissistic elitist who thought she was entitled to be elected president. No matter how one tries to dress it up, she was the problem. There's no way to "just retire the laundry list of Clinton’s mistakes as the focus of the blame" without confronting this, particularly as long as Clinton and her cult continue to deny she bears any real responsibility. That false narrative simply can't be allowed to become a Conventional Wisdom.

--j.

---

[1] This dynamic, it's worth noting, would have had minimal impact on the anti-Establishment populist Sanders.

[2] And some of us--like this writer--were raising a stink about this incredibly stupid move all along.

[3] Here, fill in the usual rant about the perils and problems of a two-party system.

[4] There have appeared at least two "studies" that purport to explain Trump's success among these groups as a result of his appeals to bigotry, offering the bizarrely counterintuitive notion that bigots voted for Obama then had some sort of racist awakening and decided to vote against Clinton. Priorities USA put the importance of Trump's appeals to bigotry in context--items like deporting illegal immigrants and building a wall on the Southern border are far less important to Obama-to-Trump voters than those many progressive priorities--and those other "studies" appear to be just another cynical variant on Clinton's "everyone's fault but mine" narrative.

[5] I'd also note that's a very questionable premise; after the entire party Establishment lined up behind her, Democrats have, as a rule, done everything possible to avoid addressing Clinton's mistakes. Among other things, the allegations of Russian interference in the election has certainly been used--rather obsessively--as a means of avoiding this matter.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Review of A Review of "What Happened"

Mediumite Jamie Pow has written a review of Hillary Clinton's "What Happened." I began a response, ran long--you know the drill--and I decided to post it as an article:

There’s this idea I often entertain, one that inevitably ends up reinforced by every bit of Clinton apologia I encounter: Show me someone who admires Hillary Clinton and I'll show you someone who doesn't really know anything about Hillary Clinton. The someones in this formulation are obviously ordinary folks who may have some kind thoughts toward her, rather than her personality cult, which doesn’t care a whit about the truth, but I never seem to find anything that suggests to me its wrong.

Your article is just the latest in a very long line of articles that reinforces it, and by addressing it in this way, I’m extending to you the benefit of the doubt on which of those categories of someones into which you fall. Simply put, what you're uncritically repeating here is the same nonsense Clinton and her circle have been programming into her cult all along. You write about Clinton being an introvert. That may be true or, as is more likely the case, it may just be nonsense put out for public consumption as a rationale for her compulsive secretiveness and resistance to public accountability but in either event, it isn't a personality trait of any real importance. The one that matters, the one that is behind this book tour, just as it's been behind her presidential races and everything else she's ever done in politics, is that she’s a narcissistic elitist, one who, in this instance, thought she was entitled to become president.

She’s never taken any real responsibility for anything. Narcissists don't. People who run for president do so because they have certain things they want to do. Clinton ran for president because she wanted to be president. It was all just vanity. The authors of "Shattered" covered what a dilemma this represented for Clinton's team, tasked with trying to come up with a way to sell a candidacy that had no rationale. Clinton really "can't let go of her belief that she would have made a very good president." A narcissist can't.
"'For me, political campaigns have always been something to get through in order to govern, which is the real prize,' she admits."
That’s an extraordinary statement. Even politicians with that level of contempt for the constituents they're supposed to be representing at least pretend they care. This is Clinton, for ever so brief a moment, dropping any pretense. For her, politicking isn't a sincere effort to sell a platform; it's just an obstacle to be overcome in order to rule, which she wants to do because she thinks she's great. You write that "Hillary Clinton can't reinvent herself to the American electorate. She can only re-introduce herself." But, in fact, she's reinvented herself dozens of times over the  years. Last year, Domenico Montanaro wrote a good article at NPR on Clinton's constant "evolution" on the "free trade" pacts backed by her donors. She always says she's against them whenever an election looms then "evolves" into supporting them once in office. Multiply that by every other issue and you have Clinton, a politician who regularly sheds personae the way a snake does its skin, taking on whatever new flesh she thinks will advance her ambitions, always careful to avoid anything bold that may thwart them, and who is utterly contemptuous of those who elect her. In her six-figure speeches to her Wall Street cronies, she casually explained her belief in the virtues of being a two-faced phony, saying politicians need "both a public and a private position" on contentious issues in order to be successful.[1]

You cite an example of this, quoting Clinton: "I'm a progressive, but I'm a progressive who likes to get things done." Clinton, of course, became a political figure on the coattails of her husband, a conservative Southern "New Democrat," the first chairman, in fact, of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC, long despised by progressives and now mercifully extinct, was a corporate-backed project that overtly sought to convince Democrats to abandon progressive values and move to the right. Bill Clinton embraced destructive right-wing priorities on crime, welfare, "free trade," deficit reduction, foreign interventionism and so on, and when it came to these policies, there was never any daylight between he and Hillary. Bill honed Dick Morris's "triangulation" strategy for selling all of this, which involved throwing progressives under the bus in order to portray "both sides" as extremists and position oneself as the sensible center, and both he and Hillary have used this same strategy in every national campaign in which they've participated. Clinton's 2016 Democratic primary persona was Sanders Reduced, a watered-down version of Sanders who insisted she was a progressive and that Sanders was an unrealistic extremist. "I take a backseat to no one," Clinton declared in July 2015,"when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values." But then on another occasion in September, she confessed to being a "moderate" and a centrist and extolled the virtues of this. Then it was back to playing at being a progressive again; when, at a Democratic debate, she was asked about Sanders' contention that she wasn't progressive enough, she offered that line about being "a progressive who gets things done," then went on a question-dodging, triangulation attack against Sanders aimed at portraying him as an entirely unreasonable purist on this point. Now, after contesting this so viciously, she's back to being a "moderate" again. "I think we operate better when we're kind of between center-right and center-left..." As I've written in the past, Clinton is an unprincipled opportunist whose instincts, in a liberal party, are conservative. All of this jockeying she does is sheer mendacity offered in contempt of the electorate by a pol whose only real cause is herself.

That same mendacity is on display in Clinton's criticism of media coverage of the election, which you cite:
"When it comes to the content of reporting, Trump had the easier time in the run-up to the election. Citing a study from Harvard's Shorenstain Center, public policy discussion constituted 10% of all news coverage before the election. Controversy over Clinton’s emails dominated, and received far more sustained attention than any of Trump's 'scandals'."
There are a raft of problems with this.

--Clinton complaining about the serious shortage of policy coverage beggars belief. Clinton didn't run an issues campaign. This was her game:
"Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran TV ads that had less to do with policy than any other presidential candidate in the past four presidential races, according to a new study published on Monday by the Wesleyan Media Project."

"Clinton’s team spent a whopping $1 billion on the election in all — about twice what Donald Trump’s campaign spent. Clinton spent $72 million on television ads in the final weeks alone.

"But only 25 percent of advertising supporting her campaign went after Trump on policy grounds, the researchers found. By comparison, every other presidential candidate going back to at least 2000 devoted more than 40 percent of his or her advertising to policy-based attacks. None spent nearly as much time going after an opponent’s personality as Clinton's ads did... Beyond overall ad spending, the study also breaks down the content of the attack ads aired on behalf of each candidate... About 90 percent of Clinton's attack ads went after Trump as an individual--compared with just 10 percent that went after his policies, the study found."
This chart puts the matter in its historical context:

Clinton likes to portray herself as some sort of policy wonk. You run with this, writing, "It's easy to get a sense of [Clinton's] frustration with Trump--for his obvious lack of appreciation for any policy detail," but Clinton has never shown any real interest in policy; her stated positions on this-or-that have always been dictated by whatever seemed safe and politically beneficial to her at the moment. She performed quite badly when Sanders forced her to discuss actual issues and in the general, she simply discarded any sustained effort at talking policy. You don't get to ignore policy then complain about press coverage that reflects this.

--The corporate press as a virtual monolith supported Clinton from the day she officially entered the race. Mediumite Andrew Endymion and I just had a good exchange on this point, covering the ugly details. Press hostility to Trump was, likewise, near-universal. It's true, as Clinton now says, that the press boosted Trump throughout the 2016 cycle--he was a freak-show, which means ratings, which translates into insanely disproportionate wall-to-wall coverage, even if most of it is negative. Clinton can hardly complain about this either though, as it was the official policy of her campaign from the beginning to elevate Trump and get the press to do the same (another revelation that came to light via Wikileaks).

--Clinton now complains about the sustained coverage of the email controversy but the only reason that stuck around and kept returning to the news was that Clinton insisted on lying about it at every turn. She would lie, the lie would be exposed and she would offer a new one in place of the old, beginning the cycle again. "[D]o you know what the big deal was about Hillary Clinton's emails?" you write. "It seems to me that it all came down to her being able to keep her single Blackberry, access all her email accounts on it, and not having to carry two phones." It's impossible to believe you've followed any aspect of this story if you've honestly reached that conclusion. Those emails are, by law, public records. Back in 2007, then-Sen. Clinton condemned the Bush administration for its inappropriate use of a server controlled by the Republican National Committee to conduct official government business. Less than two years later, the ever-secretive Clinton who had just been chosen as Secretary of State established a private email server in her own home so she could have exclusive control of her own official correspondence. The mere fact that she established such a set-up is a major scandal. Clinton ignored repeated warnings that her Blackberries were security risks. The server itself was a massive security risk. She never requested approval of it and the responsible officials made it very clear she wouldn't have gotten it if she had. Clinton left the State Department in February 2013 without turning over any of her emails and, in fact, she didn't turn over any until December 2014, after the Benghazi special committee had requested them and State didn't have them. She printed up 30,000 pages of them, deleted the rest, the server was wiped and she began a long string of lies that kept the story in the news throughout the campaign. Endymion:

"No, she did not turn over all work-related emails. Yes, she did send classified information. No, there has never been a Sec State who set up a private server in his or her basement to establish exclusive control over all correspondence. No, Comey didn’t call her 'truthful.' The story wouldn’t die because Clinton wouldn’t let it and nobody else was under any obligation to kill it."

She lied about there being nothing marked "classified" in her emails. When confronted with the fact that some were plainly marked, she claimed she didn't know what those markings meant! And on and on. You can't behave like this then complain that the story you're keeping alive via this behavior is still being covered.

This writer doesn't get very excited about the mishandling of classified material. While there are obvious dangers in it and Clinton's behavior was, in the face of them, really reckless, stupid and probably criminal, this is happening inside a government obsessed with secrecy that routinely overclassifies just about everything. That's more my concern. Clinton set up that server to skirt public records requirements. That alone is enough to damn her in this matter but her own view, reflected in everything you quote from her, is that she never did anything wrong in any of this, just made a stupid decision in setting up that server then was unreasonably victimized by everyone. That's how narcissists are. 

I don't know you but I’ve assumed, for the purposes of this piece, that you're genuinely ignorant of most of what I’ve just described rather than just another Clinton cultist mouthing the programming. I would urge you to delve much more deeply into these matters before writing on them any further. You say you admire Clinton but there simply isn't anything terribly admirable in malignant narcissists. Don't too easily throw your own good name away on one.

--j.

---

[1] Those Wall Street speeches were full of damaging information that probably would have sank her primary campaign. and like the two-faced phony that she is, she concealed them from public view, trying to dance around every demand for them with doubletalk until Wikileaks acquired and released partial transcripts of them.