Jill Stein is Not the Answer (Especially in Florida!)

Commentator “How” (I still have commentators?)  may or may not be a Republican plant.  I prefer to assume he or she is not, and thus thought I would write a reply to this recent contribution

“How” writes,

Though I would never vote for Clinton, and was a strong supporter of Obama, recent endorsements of Clinton my Wolfowitz, the Bushes etc. make me more disgusted with Hillary. Voting green party again here in FL. My husband and I will be moving to SE asia to become kind of global nomads for the next few years – so luckily we won’t be paying much attention hillary or trump for he next few years. Honestly, I see trump winning this – I see Hillary setting up Assad as another Saddam Hussein – she clearly hasn’t learned her lesson. I hope Trump wins to shake things up – no matter how bad things may get. The US can’t continue on the same path of foreign policy w/ regards to Yemen, Iran, Palestine, Saudi Arabia etc… and Clinton represents more of same.

This is pretty wrong-headed stuff. The first thing is that in a competitive state like Florida, a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump. Saying you think he’ll win anyway only underscores the gravity of the decision.

Saying, ‘I’m going abroad suckers enjoy the mess I’m leaving behind’ does not come off as terrible endearing. Nor is it terribly smart, since for better or worse a US President’s decisions have repercussions pretty much everywhere.

But the biggest thing wrong here may be thinking that Jill Stein deserves your vote. Frankly, she’s doesn’t. If not directly an anti-vaxxer, she’s certainly happy to dog whistle to them. But the main thing is that this isn’t an ordinary election.

jill-stein-two-for-oneI think it’s unfair to equate Hillary Clinton with the Bushes. She’s much more progressive on domestic issues other than perhaps finance-related ones – which is to say she’s going to be good on health care, student aid, women’s rights, the environment, global warming. She will appoint much more progressive judges. Squishy as she is on terrorism/civil liberties she is no worse, and maybe a hair better than Obama. It’s only on foreign policy that she looks bad. Even there, however, one might ask whether Trump is more likely to start more wars directly, and especially cause more indirectly as a result of the chaos he would spill across the international stage.

You think Hilary’s foreign policy advisers and endorsers are bad? Have you seen who is behind Trump? Not to mention that he makes a loose cannon look moderate.

Last, but not least, it’s not worth throwing away the next three Supreme Court appointments.

Don’t do it.

Of course, “How” also says s/he voted Green before Obama ran — which means that his or her Nader vote helped elect George W. And how did that work out for you? Or most everyone else in the world?

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41 Responses to Jill Stein is Not the Answer (Especially in Florida!)

  1. Just me says:

    I voted for the libertarian party candidate in 2000 and very much regret it. I like Gary Johnson in 2016 much more than I liked the Libertarian candidate in 2000. I also dislike Trump/Clinton in 2016 much more than I disliked the Bush/Gore in 2000. Still, the bad taste in my mouth from 2000 has not gone away. I will be holding my nose and voting for Hilary Clinton.

    • Leaving aside Johnson’s apparent ignorance of basics of foreign affairs, much less policy (“What is Allepo?”), here’s a nice summary of some of the things Gary Johnson stands for:

      • He supports TPP. 
      • He supports fracking. 
      • He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely. 
      • He thinks Citizens United is great. 
      • He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. At all. 
      • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds. 
      • He opposes net neutrality. 
      • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he’s open to privatization. 
      • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare. 
      • He opposes practically all forms of gun control. 
      • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave. 
      • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline. 
      • He opposes any government action to address climate change. 
      • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero. 
      • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK. 
      • He wants to remove the Fed’s mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard. 
      • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states. 
      • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

      I think this list speaks for itself.

  2. Brendan says:

    Had the Democratic power elite picked the better candidate in the primary, we wouldn’t have this huge possibility of a Trump administration. It is not the responsibility of Jill Stein supporters’ to pay ransom to the Democrats that are holding all Americans politically hostage. If Trump wins pin it on the super delegates not Jill Stein or her voters.

    • Michael says:

      Sorry, but I don’t buy that argument. It may well be true that the Dems and especially Dem elites are responsible for putting us in this pickle, but the fact remains that we are there. At that point, dealing with reality is not “paying ransom” but rather making a moral choice given the existing alternatives.

      If Trump’s margin of victory <= Stein voters, I will blame them as the but-for cause, and feel justified in doing so.

      • Just me says:

        That’s silly.

        Even as a nose-holding-Hillary-voter, I do not think that there is anything “moral” about voting for Hillary. On the contrary, I feel like I am doing something decidedly not moral by voting for Hillary. Sometimes, the lesser of two evils is still evil (not that Hillary is necessarily “evil,” but you get the drift). The “moral” thing to do is to vote for the candidate that you think is best. The practical thing to do is to vote for Hillary as a defensive move against Trump.

        If we all acted morally, there would be almost no chance that The Donald or Hillary would be president and we wouldn’t be having this discussion to begin with.

        • I didn’t actually make a moral argument above – it was quite pragmatic.

          That said, the moral argument is not at all silly: I do think Trump is so bad that contributing to his election even by voting for a 3rd party candidate, who in this case has no chance of winning, is immoral.

  3. Larry DeLuca says:

    Interesting. May I ask how you define the term “Involuntary Servitude”

    • Michael says:

      What is the connection to the post, please? I don’t think that voting for Clinton counts as ‘involuntary servitude’ if that is what you are asking.

      • Larry DeLuca says:

        I am trying to learn the meaning of the term as found in The Constitution. Can Americans be forced into Involuntary Servitude of another’s (healthcare) or anything?

        • michael says:

          I believe you are confounding taxes with actual servitude?

          In any case there’s a difference between being forced to pay a sum of money, and being forced to do specific labor. This document, from the Library of Congress may help you further understand the meaning of the term involuntary servitude in the 13th Amendment.

          • Larry DeLuca says:

            Thank you for your kind and civil response.
            Can we agree that the percentage of tax dictates the amount of servitude?
            Money is just a medium of exchange for our labor, (our voluntary servitude).
            The question remains:
            Can a third party ever force you to labor ( get taxed) for the benefit of another against your will?
            The exception being conviction of a crime, as stated in 13thAmend.

            • Michael says:

              The differences between a tax and involuntary servitude are legion. They include that with a servitude you don’t get to decide what you do – you must do the task you are assigned by your master; with a tax you have some freedom to decide how to get the money. This includes (1) working at the job (& time) of choice, subject to availability; (2) begging and borrowing; (3) selling goods or property.

              Nobody – nobody! – who debated the 13th amendment thought that the prohibition on involuntary servitude limited the government’s existing power to lay taxes. (Servitude was a result of contract, status, or punishment, not tax.) Similarly, no one I ever heard of who debated the 16th amendment thought it in any way undermined the 13th. Many court decisions also find the limit doesn’t block other traditional claims on labor, notably the draft.

              Logically the draft would be the best argument for your view, but for better or worse the courts have long rejected that argument.

              Thus, I’m afraid that your simplistic equation of the two terms doesn’t work as a matter of common sense nor as a matter of formal law as understood int the US.

              • Larry DeLuca says:

                Can we agree that
                a person can choose to labor as a butcher, baker or candlestick maker.
                That is voluntary and that is as it should be.
                No matter his choice, the tax is involuntary and when the tax is 100% it is exactly the same as involuntary servitude.
                When the tax is 50% it takes 2 years of labor to equal one full year of involuntary servitude.

                There was no income tax in 1865.
                The 16th Amendment (Income Tax promised at very low rates only on the rich) was ratified in 1913 and shortly after started the abuses.
                Art 1 Sect 9 “No Capitation or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census”…

                • Please read my reply above. NO, we cannot agree with your counter-facutal claim that the “tax is the same as involuntary servitude” for the reasons stated above. It’s nonsense.

                  Chanting it over and over will not make it less nonsensical.

                  Plus, the 16th amendment was designed to change the Art 1 sec 9 language you quote, and did so. Although the amendment was sold on low taxes, exigencies of war and then the needs of mixed market capitalism made it increase. And there is nothing about tax levels in the 16th, so no textualist could complain.

                  I suspect we’re done on this discussion: I gave you facts and arguments, you repeated slogans. I’m happy to provide teachable moments, but not willing to talk to walls.

                  (Perhaps this behavior of yours is why, as you seemed to hint above, you don’t get many civil responses?)

                  Face it: as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “taxes are the price we pay for civilization.”

                • Larry DeLuca says:

                  I did not explain it well enough. The Social Security and other Trust Fund Debt is NOT separate it is INCLUDED in the $19 Trillion of congressional
                  debt abuse. Nobody can tell us when that debt will be repaid and congress has no plan to payoff its unlawful debt.

                  Surely Brad DeLong didn’t mean
                  When progressives run out of Other Peoples Money, “the soft glove of Socialist (Trek-Like) Utopia turns to the Iron Fist of tyranny ” Hat Tip Thatcher

                  “But Grandfather, why didn’t anybody stop congress from overspending its income when their debt was only $20 Trillion?”
                  “Because they were listening to economists who didn’t know how to economize” he said.
                  You KNOW how to economize, you do it every day.
                  We need your help to teach congress, please.

              • Larry DeLuca says:

                You have realized that my ability to teach or even explain is very lacking.
                Can we move away from how Govt gets its income to what they do with it?
                I am still trying to understand how America got into the current shape
                which is unsustainable financially.
                Please consider this.
                Our employees in congress are now wasting over $11,000 dollars on debt abuse interest every second.
                Interest on the debt outstanding was $402 Billion in FY 2015
                Thats over a $ Billion a day, which is where I get the $11,000 a second of waste.
                A possible solution:
                To stop that waste congress could use some of every dollar of its $2 Trillion per year income to make payments to principal on its debt.
                When the debt is paid off, there will be no money wasted on debt interest.

                • You have been badly misled.

                  The US deficit is clearly NOT “unsustainable” in its current form. The evidence for this is 2-fold: first, the debt as a % of GDP is well within the range of what the US and others have managed historically. Second, and even more telling, if the debt were “unsustainable” we would expect the bond market to demand a high premium for holding the debt, but in fact interest rates on US Treasuries are at historic lows. Thus, the market sees no problem.

                  In fact, the problem we face right now is probably the reverse: debt is too low. Given that interest rates on federal debt are so low – sometimes near zero – we should be borrowing to build all infrastructure projects with a substantial positive rate of return. As such, as a society, we’d turn a profit on the debt.

                  So the problem isn’t “waste” but rather underspending.

                  Incidentally, it’s jejune to talk about “waste” unmoored from some idea of where you think that waste is. Most US government spending is either military or transfer payments. The government is very efficient at writing checks. So the so-called waste is either you don’t think old people should have social security, poor people should eat, veterans should have pensions… or in the Pentagon (and even there a lot is salaries and benefits). Can you identify where this billions of “waste” that you think somehow no one has noticed for years is hiding?

                  Sure, you will find some dumb programs or even graft here or there, but at least outside the military the total will add up to millions at best, not anywhere near billions.

                  PS. Money spent on debt interest is not “wasted” if it was well invested. The issue is always what you bought for it. To the extent we bought tax cuts for 1%ers I agree it was a waste; to the extent we bought bridges and pensions, I don’t.

              • Larry DeLuca says:

                I think of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as just “Gross Sales” for the country.
                It includes things like all the Boeing jet planes and girl scout cookies sold for a given year.
                Since congress doesn’t own the GDP, it can’t be used to make interest or principal payments on the debt, congress can only use it’s Income (roughly

                about $2Trillion a year) to make interest or principal payments on it’s debt.

                Instead of using debt to GDP as a metric of debt mismanagement I suggest debt to Income.
                I do appreciate your response and I am trying to teach myself to stick only with the facts.
                A person or company can borrow money and write the interest off against their income for a tax benefit.
                Congress (and the States) can’t so interest has no investment value. Interest only makes the purchases more expensive.

              • Larry DeLuca says:

                Let’s look at 2 potential cases 63 years from now while holding everything the same except for 1 variable:

                Case 1
                $19 Trillion of debt has been paid off and congress now has $400 Billion of its $2 Trillion per yr income that it no longer has to spend on debt

                interest.
                Case 2
                $19 Trillion has been carried for 63 years and congress still has an income to budget of $2 Trillion per year minus the $400 Billion it still has to

                spend on debt interest. Meanwhile in our sceanario interest rates haven’t changed so congress has spent 63years x $400Billion per yr or $25 Trillion

                in debt interest with no new roads. There is still $19 Trillion of debt. Should it be carried again or paid off?
                63 years was chosen because using 15% of a $2 Trillion income for payments to principal will payoff $19 Trillion of Debt in 63 years.

                • You left two sets of things out. First, in saving the money to avoid creating new debt as the old debt is retired, we had to forgo some consumption or investment.

                  What did we forgo? Was it basic research? What did we lose by not making discoveries? Was it food stamps? What did we lose by having starving kids who can’t concentrate in school, and grow up to be less productive? Was it roads? What did we pay in extra energy costs and increased wear and tear on rolling stock? And so on.

                  Second, what was the effect on overall income and growth of the contraction? Did it tamp down over-exuberance and inflation (could be good!) or did it fail to stimulate a moribund, low-inflation, underemployed economy (like we have now)? [There are also some inter-generational transfer issues, but I don’t have time for that now.]

                  Both these things must be taken into account as well, but you just looked at one side of the ledger.

                  But now I think the time has come for you to find an economist to try out your over-simplistic accounting on. I have work to do.

              • Larry DeLuca says:

                Most lawyers know it is wrong to “dip into” other people’s retirement funds to pay for multi Million Dollar Vacations for some public employees yet

                congress has “borrowed” over $2 Trillion from Social Security Trust Fund and still haven’t paid it back. Other Trust Funds have been hit for $3

                Trillion.

                To run a checkbook congress needs the skills of adding and subtracting whole numbers, not an economist.

                It is as if our employees in congress never learned the lesson of the celebration known as “Cinco de Mayo” when Mexico failed to make interest
                payments on their debt.

                Do not take any time from your work, please, if you could just find 5 minutes a week or month to somehow teach our employees in congress to
                simply
                1. Budget only their income and
                2. Use SOME of every dollar of income to pay down their debt
                You could help save America from financial collapse.

                I spend some volunteer time to try to save America the $11,000 per second now wasted on “Interest on the Debt outstanding”

                Thank you for being willing to listen.
                If you ever want to monitor congressional debt abuse
                look here
                http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/pd_debttothepenny.htm

                the column on the left is the money congress has “borrowed” and never paid back from “Trust Funds”
                Is that what lawyers call comingling ?

                • OK, now you are in what Brad DeLong calls “the Gamma Quadrant”. The US isn’t facing financial collapse.

                  The accounting fictions involving the trust funds are accounting identities. They don’t change the underlying realities. (One of which is that unless we change the funding mechanism, at some point in the future our Social Security promised payments will exceed the money earmarked for it; either we start putting away more money now, e.g. by removing the income cap on SSA taxes, or we fund it out of general revenues then, or we will have to cut about a third out of payments in a few decades. But that’s about Social Security, not about the the overall debt.)

                  Money on debt service isn’t per se “waste” (see above).

                  Enough already.

  4. Vic says:

    I think you need to ask yourself what would Dem voters be doing if, somehow, Marion Berry (sp?) was the candidate? Or pick someone equally implausible and shady, if you prefer. Would Dem “leaders” and talking heads still advocate voting for that candidate because of some mixture of “well, he’s a Democrat” and “we need to keep that wacko Trump out of the WH?” You know they would be.

    I am betting that ANYBODY not specifically barred from running for President as a Democrat would be getting the same assistance and advocation as Hillary is now if they were instead the candidate. If you don’t believe that, you are kidding yourself.

    This is because, despite the intellectualoids thinking differently, modern politics is all about creating McGuffins, not issues that may have debate points to consider, or who the candidates are. Whomever EITHER side puts up as a candidate is not a real candidate, just a shill or a Johnny Bravo costume to be filled to distract from the REAL Washington DC world of private rule. (That’s a Brady Bunch reference for you Yale grads)

    And its blindness to this idea which creates the fundamental non-understanding of Trump. Yes, he’s a bafoon. Yes he’d be a crappy President under the usual standards. Yes, he will be embarrassing. But if you think that’s something the significant number of people supporting him are blind to, then it’s YOU that are blind. He is desired as a candidate PRECISELY BECAUSE he is all those things – and one MORE thing: An outsider. he is INTENDED to sway through like a bull through the proverbial china shop.

    This election is about acquiescing and allowing our Federal Government to continue as before, in the hands of a private elite who can do whatever they like, break whatever laws they like, spread other people’s money around like candy for the own purposes, and determine who gets to join their little club and sit at the cool kids’ table (Hint: Bernie Sanders does not). Policies and issues are just distractive flash-bangs to keep you not thinking about that truth, but keep your Pavlovian attraction to “real” candidates – the insiders, who want to hold power.

    Alternatively, one can vote for who will undoubtedly be a bad President, but who MOST IMPORTANTLY is not in the insider club, is not beholden to them, cannot be corrupted by them, and who will only look out for #1 in the end (counterintuatively to you outdated policy-oriented folks, considered a plus by Trump voters).

    So you can keep pretending that policy really matters in this election for all voters equally, and that Republicans endorsing Hillary is ANYTHING other than self-interest in maintaining the insider club, and that folks support Trump only because they are on the wrong side of policies, if that makes you feel better and smarter about yourself.

    One would think, however, that anyone that thinks himself so politically informed might start wondering how someone as clearly secretive, corrupt and criminal as Hillary Clinton and someone so clearly outside of specs as Trump could have gained ANYONE’s interest, much less be neck-in-neck as the only viable candidates. If you aren’t honestly thinking about and wondering aloud on THAT odd thing, and preparing to consider that you might be completely misunderstanding this election, then you really have no idea what is going on, and what you think about Jill Stein might well be, as Tolstoy’s Prince Andre said after the battle of Austerlitz, nothing more than the buzzing of a fly.

    And I commend you for honestly noting that nobody usually bothers paying much attention to your posts. Maybe if you considered things outside of the well-worn box once in a while…

    • michael says:

      Well, I don’t think H.Clinton is criminal at all. I don’t think she’s more corrupt than about 98 members of the Senate, either. In other words I don’t think that many of the behaviors of hers I dislike are particularly unusual, more’s the pity.

      So I reject the comparison to convicted felon and drug user Marion Barry. Indeed, I think you have to work quite hard to come up with an un-indicted plausible comparison Democratic demagog and ignoramus. (Anthony Weiner seems like a bad and disturbed man, but he’s not ignorant.)

      As to the Trump-is-the-poke-in-the-eye candidate, that may be the case. But that just means there’s more pressure on the people with a bit more common sense to block it.

      The point of my post was not to analyze Trump’s appeal to large numbers of both racists and non-racists, although that’s an interesting and important question. Nor was my point to appeal to the likely Trump voter, although I doubt many would read that post anyway. The point I tried to make above and here reiterate, is that people who understand how dangerous and evil Trump would be in power and who live in swing states should not give themselves the easy luxury of throwing away their votes on Jill Stein (or, for that matter, the Libertarian candidate) but rather should shoulder the — perhaps difficult and painful — duty of voting for Clinton in order to save us from a very terrible outcome.

      I’ll give you the best parallel I’ve got, although it’s not exact, and you will hate it. I think Patrick Murphy is pretty horrible in all sorts of ways, from character to issues. For a long time I said I could never vote for him. Given, however, that it seems like a sort of close election is brewing, I am nerving myself to vote for the empty suit because: 1) Rubio is no better on either character or issues or suit-filling; 2) Murphy is more likely to be a good vote on Supreme Court confirmations. (I sure have little hope for him on most other things.)

      My point is that in our system, sometimes you just have to hold your nose very tightly and vote very tactically. Even when it hurts.

      • Vic says:

        No one can possibly, if they are really being honest, think Hillary is anything BUT criminal. She just wasn’t found to be so by an FBI that has quite clearly been corrupted. Every Friday afternoon (it seems lately), the 5:30 document dump confirms more and more what a sham that FBI “investigation” was. Most recently, we learned that her, and/or one of her aids in this debacle, simply “lost” a thumb drive with all of her emails (many of which, we now know WERE classified). Much like how a laptop containing her emails was “lost” in the mail earlier. We also now know that many on her staff and otherwise WITHOUT security clearance had full access to her secure accounts (and this lost thumb drive) because she couldn’t be bothered to remember all those pesky passwords. Thus she allowed others, without clearance, to have full access to classified information. This is ALL criminal behavior – behavior that many lesser folks are doing very hard time for doing. And that’s just a couple of items from the most recent document dump. Seriously, you can’t possibly think Hillary is anything but un-indicted, but she has quite clearly and repeatedly engaged in criminal behavior. The FBI is either completely incompetent in its investigation (less doubtful), or was corrupted from above, to have made the claim that she was “negligent” (which IS criminal under the applicable statutes as well), but that it was unintended (as if that makes it OK).

        The fact that 98, or even 400 others in the Capitol are corrupt as well is not a defense, it only seals my point.

        This is a corrupt enterprise through and through. It has become rotted from within and it corrupts all who participate in it. Even Paul Wellstone on one side, and Ted Cruz on the other, couldn’t keep from being corrupted. Look how fast Rubio changed his tune and selected a return to power over principles expressed. It is a private and exclusive power game that is for members only. That any Bush would endorse Hillary (if he did/does) is just more evidence of that, not any sort of proof about Trump.

        I told you a long time ago: My first Rule of Understanding Politics is to realize that everything – EVERYTHING – a politician does is to either get elected or stay elected. It’s about power, not service. Once you accept that, all the seemingly weird, corrupt and hypocritical things politicians say and do make perfect sense. Internalize that and you start seeing them for who they are and the veil falls away. Of COURSE Bush and lots of other Republicans want you to vote Hillary – it’s only Hillary that will sustain the game they are all playing. They don’t care about Party – that’s for YOUR benefit – they care about the game. That’s it. This is a game that makes you RICH beyond all your dreams. It’s irresistible.

        Trump, for all the uncertainty around him, is less likely to participate in that game, or siphon their profits to HIS interests, thus they want him stopped. (Actually, I believe he may or may not – the corrupting influence of Washington is very strong – but there is exactly ZERO chance that anybody else will resist it. Even Bernie couldn’t when it came right down to it.)

        As for Trump being “evil.” C’mon. You’re better than to buy into all that smokescreen. He’s not evil. He’s a buffoon and a blowhard, but he’s not evil. That’s just a scare word used by the political class, because they think you are so stupid you need simple scary words to understand. It’s only about one generation more sophisticated than calling him a poopy-head.

        Again, to be ABSOLUTELY clear, it’s not that I think he’s a great man and should be President so he can really shine and help us all. Not at all. Nor do many/most of his followers think so (don’t kid yourself). It’s that he’s not a fully functioning member of our corrupt political elite, and is most likely not to be seduced (or allowed in by) them, and so he is the most likely to start the process of dismantling that system, if it’s even possible any more. Will that happen – nothing is certain – but it IS certain it will be corrupt business as usual if Hillary gets elected.

        As for dangerous in power. I don’t know how, after 15 years of continuous war, many thousands of American Service people killed, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in wars zones, the complete destabilization of huge swaths of the world (by both parties’ Presidents) and a Military complex that sustains all of this willingly because its good for their business, you can seriously be all that worried about whatever new “dangerousness” Trump might bring to the table. Seriously. Short of an all-out land war across the U.S. we are ALREADY IN DANGEROUS, and have been for 15 years. Do you recall what happened right after the last time our glorious military C-in-C declared ISIS to be in retreat?

        I agree that sometimes you have to hold your nose, but maybe Trump and Stein ARE the hold your nose votes. I think you need to consider that a bit. I respect those that are voting their conscience instead of just voting Hillary like the good minion they are expected to be. These are the thoughtful voters – willing to lose for an ideal. This is what our country was founded upon.

        • Michael says:

          The emails are a nothingburger. The FBI decision was obviously correct given the evidence. The so-called classified docs were 1) retroactively classified and 2) almost all about stuff that had in the papers (drone strikes).

          And, since you’re a lawyer, let me remind you about mens rea. There was none, which is why the Clinton part of this was an easy case for the FBI. (I haven’t focused as carefully on the aides; but even if they screwed up somehow, e.g. lost a drive, why does that mean Clinton is a criminal???)

          It may be that for some people, not all of whom are racists, Trump seems like the ‘hold your nose’ vote because they are convinced it is time to detonate the system. But I wasn’t writing to them. I was writing to people whose world view recognizes the danger of global warming, the harms from a trade war, the dangers of Mussolini-like appeals to violent nationalism, the dog-whistle racism, the petty thievery, the manifold dangers that a Trump administration would represent.

          As for stealing – Trump is likely worse than normal. It seems he fiddles his taxes, treats his foundation as a piggy bank (no one says the Clintons are pocketing money from their foundation) and is in hock to, or at least in bed with, Putin. This would not be good for us. There is no parallel universe I can imagine in which Trump seems even vaguely honest — how could one imagine he is, when he lies several times a day?

          Again, I’m not really trying to convince Trump voters they risk destroying the country. That would take more energy than I have. I am trying to persuade people who understand how bad Trump is that (in swing states) that means they have to vote to defeat him, not just stay home, not just make a protest vote. You never address that argument as far as I can see. Is it that good?

          PS ISIS really is in retreat. It’s lost a huge amount of territory and I think that on balance it will get worse. This will, however, mean that ISIS likely will turn more to terrorism because it has nothing else. But ISIS as a caliphate is in fact very much on the ropes.

  5. Vic says:

    You cannot possibly be serious when you say the Clinton email scandal is a nothingburger. You don’t see the OBVIOUS mens rea in all that? You don’t see the increasingly clear evidence that there is a huge cover-up going on, which now even implicates the objectivity of the FBI itself? Just as one fun fact: The stuff that Clinton writes, that might later be deemed “classified” by another authority, is classified when she writes it. Nobody EVER needs to say that a Clinton email about drone strikes is classified in order for it to be so, it IS classified when it is written. It doesn’t matter if someone else already knows about it. I tell you that as an absolute truth drummed into anyone that has ever held a high-level security clearance, as I have, and as Clinton obviously did. What she writes about the operation of the U.S. Government IS CLASSIFIED from the start. Equally (and I consider this even more damning) the passwords she used to get access to classified information are themselves considered classified and CANNOT be shared with ANYONE. Period. That she couldn’t properly remember her passwords and so gave them around to other people to remember for her (mens rea) IS A CRIME. I would be in Federal prison right now if I had done just those couple of things. Anyone would be. That the President of the United States used a pseaudonym when exchanging on that server indicates what, do you think? That this was an above-board, nothing to see here, fully legal action of Government? The fact that the FBI found no fault in it should be utterly shocking to someone who is a lawyer, but apparently, politics wins out with you as well.

    Really, you are a lawyer, I am a lawyer, don’t insult my intelligence by pretending that all of this is completely innocent from any objective point of view. We both know that a lawyer’s response to “what does the contract say” is “what do you WANT it to say!?” but c’mon…

    Obviously, you haven’t really been keeping up with all the news about the Clinton Foundation – and why should you, when the NY Times won’t cover it. I’ll let you figure all that out on your own.

    As I said, I see this election as insider business as usual versus outsider possible but not assured shake up. In that I think the business as usual approach is tired and has been extremely harmful to this country, I think a shakeup is more important. A vote for Hillary is nothing less that giving up and saying that the way things function now, or more accurately don’t function, is just fine. I’d rather risk a Presidential mistake and MAYBE start fixing the complete Government stagnation that has been in place for decades now – and MAYBE, just MAYBE, that might lead to less people being killed in an endless war that cannot be decisively won or safely exited in its current form.

    Which brings me to ISIS, if you (like the President) think that the threat comes from a group that also has land, and that diminishing such holdings, apparently putting them in retreat, is the same thing as when we put the Nazis into retreat, you have a fundamental misunderstanding (as does the President) of what is going on. Engaging in battles, just so that statistics can be touted saying that X amount of land was recaptured, or that Y number of enemy combatants were killed is an utter failure tactic that we supposedly learned in Vietnam. We are not even fighting an enemy like the Vietnamese, wherein holding land has any meaning at all. THIS is why we are losing this war, why we will ultimately fail in this war, and why all we have been doing for 15 years is just killing people – ours and others – rather than engaging in war. Trump may not have the correct solution, but he definitely recognizes that these is a problem. Whatever he does will be more education, if not successful in itself, than doing the same failing thing we’ve done for 15 years now (and I would argue, since at least President Clinton’s time, if not Reagan’s). You vote for Hillary, you can count on more trickles of sheep to the slaughter in the form of U.S. troops, to accomplish an undefined “mission” that has no meaning of itself. You can COUNT on STILL being in this war for decades if we don’t change what we are doing. I am shocked that the anti-war movement has been completely abandoned by the Left, and that I am waaaaaay more anti-this-war than any liberal I know. ISIS may be in technical retreat, but what they stand for is winning. Against the most powerful army the world has ever seen, it is winning – the scary part is that nobody in power seems particularly bothered by that.

    BTW, I do appreciate your reasoned and polite responses in this thread.

    • Michael says:

      There Is Nothing There. Read these:

      Kurt Eichenwald, Newsweek, Why Hillary Clinton’s “Emailgate” Is a Fake Scandal and
      The Scandal Over Clinton’s Emails Still Isn’t a Scandal

      If for some reason that’s not enough, add in:

      Ed Kilgore, Clinton Email “Scandal” a Nothing-Burger?

      Charles Pierce, The Great Hillary Email Nothingburger is Still on the Grill, and It’s Certainly Overcooked

      Kevin Drum, Emailgate Continues to Be a Nothingburger and especially 14 Excerpts From the FBI’s Report on Hillary Clinton’s Email which looks at all the worse parts of the FBI report and then concludes “this report is pretty much an almost complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton” (bold in original). Given your rant above, pay special attention to the comments relating to pages 22 and 23 of the FBI report. (Why the FBI Chief, REPUBLICAN James Comey, would be in the tank for Hilary is a question I suppose you can address at your leisure.)

      The email thing is 99.2% a media/Institute for Justice creation. I get their PR. It’s sad how little they actually have.

      OK, back to ISIS. There is not one “threat” in the world. There are multiple ones. Terrorism will never be eradicated unless we have a global police state. The goal there is containment. ISIS-as-terrorist is likely to be one of the deadlier ones, at least at first. That is an issue. But it’s an utterly separate issue from ISIS as rogue state in the Mideast. There was a time it looked like it might have territory, revenue, staying power. That would be a big deal–bigger than low-level terrorism from stateless groups for many reasons, including but in no way limited to that it provided a safe haven for terrorists.

      Now it looks like ISIS is on the run; with luck collapse will be next. And notably ISIS is losing, not winning, hearts and minds on the ground. So here there’s a rare genuine foreign policy success, even if it’s one the bad guys mostly brought on themselves by being so horrible to the people they conquered. So yes, ISIS not having any territory matters a lot. That doesn’t solve all the world’s problems, nor all the problems ISIS creates; in the very short run it makes ISIS more desperate and thus more inclined to bomb France or the US or other NATO countries. But in the long run, we’re better off (and I think the locals are in most or all cases better off) if ISIS is not in control. All of this is without prejudice to whether the US should (or mostly shouldn’t) be putting boots on the ground, or planes in the air, in other local armed conflicts.

      Incidentally, if you have read my other posts, you will have noticed that my #1 beef with Clinton is that she is too bellicose. However, I do think that Trump will be even worse on that score, as he’s likely to start wars all over the world — either by saying dumb stuff like we won’t protect Estonia, or next Taiwan, thus emboldening neighboring dictators, or by attempting gunboat diplomacy. Tragically, he’s worse than Hillary even when she’s at her worst. Which brings me back to the original subject of this post: anyone who understand just how bad Trump ought to recognize it as a moral duty to not just vote against him, but to vote for the only opponent who can beat him.

      • Vic says:

        Are you even serious with those “nothing-burger” links!? If I was a student of yours, and turned in an argument to you that consisted of an argument like this (and there really was only one opinion-as-argument being made -as a talking point – as evidenced by the use of the same word in every headline), you’d fail me. And rightly so. This was a series of opinion copies.

        Look at what we KNOW she’s has done and also lied about doing: She stored classified information on a non-classified email system (authorized, acquiesced to, or otherwise). She originated classified information on this same system. She directly gave others, many of who have no known clearance, full access to this information. She claims to have destroyed, or caused to be destroyed, multiple instances of some or all of this information by methods known to be generally inconclusive in their destruction (bashing a device does not mean the data is unrecoverable). She was a participant in actions that caused to be lost further copies of said data, at least some of which is known to be classified (at least one laptop (“lost in the mail[!]) and one thumb drive which was just lost by one of her staffers in her piles of junk in the office (or however she described it – like it was that coupon for Walgreen’s). We KNOW she did not turn over all of her emails to the State Department OR the FBI which were work-related, and that these same emails were not all available on any Government system or file anywhere. And we know that not all of the emails she not just deleted, but intentionally made unrecoverable, were about yoga pants, or whatever.

        We know that as Secretary of State, she never accessed an account that would have been available to her as Secretary. We also know that the ONLY way some of these emails COULD have made it from the classified system to her system is if SOMEBODY improperly and intentionally copied them over – jumped the air-gap.

        We also can infer from a timeline of events that AFTER a subpoena for this information had been issued, the emails were extant, but were subsequently destroyed. We also know there there was possibly an attempt to electronically alter metadata on these emails by the (I note: uncleared) IT person with physical possession of the data device and access to the data. Access given to him, and others in his company, by Clinton and/or her staff.

        So we KNOW all this, and we know that she lied to the public, Congress and/or the FBI about all of this progressively changing her story as more facts came to light over the last year. This is not even in dispute.

        The question for the FBI (and really the Justice Department), was: Would Hillary, who very clearly, and evidence strongly suggests knowingly, kept, created, exposed, and lost, classified information on an electronically unsecure server, lied to the FBI at least in part, and/or lied to Congress (since she told Congress and the FBI differing versions of the story), and was at least knowingly surrounded by, if not an actual participant in, a clear conspiracy to destroy evidence of wrongdoing and obstruct justice – would Hillary be treated like anybody else would have been under these circumstances?

        The answer was, astonishingly, no. The Justice Department put its thumb on the scales of Justice and declared here too important to prosecute (Justice has the say in this, not the FBI, as you know). The FBI did a mere cursory interview of her. Did not ask or follow up on obvious lines of questioning. Granted some form of immunity to most of the subjects of the investigation. Allowed one subject of the investigation to claim (improperly, since she wasn’t, by law) to be the lawyer of another subject, and then claim privilege in that capacity for the apparent purpose of obstructing justice.

        Even if you believe 100% everything that the FBI states in its “report” (which is hard to do since contrary facts are leaked out/released from the FBI every week which add to this supposedly complete report), it is NOT an exoneration. It is nothing more than a statement that the FBI does not recommend prosecution, since she was only “careless.”

        I have held a high security clearance with access to crucial National Security information that could get people killed. I don’t know if you have. Yes, there are a lot of rules on it, but I can tell you FOR A FACT that if you really have no idea that a document you create or read is classified or not, or think you have to read text for “months” to understand the classified document handling standards, then you are clearly not capable of being Secretary of State, and surely not the President.

        I’m not even going to address the rest, if you are not capable of providing more “evidence” than journalists copying and quoting each other’s opinions about something they clearly haven’t bothered to inform themselves on, then whatever else you have to say on the overriding subject here is meaningless. (BTW, the Pierce piece linked to nowhere when I tried it.)

        Read the last paragraph of the first article:
        “The end question: Was security compromised? Was the process she used inappropriate or create any dangers? Or was it potentially safer, with more protections than exist in the federal system? I don’t know. But what’s sad here is, neither do the reporters who are huffing and puffing about this folderol. And aren’t journalists supposed to know if there is a scandal before declaring that one exists?”

        Even your source states that he has no idea on the subject, you you claim his piece as evidence proving anything? C’mom, Michael, you need to do better than that to make your point.

        • No prosecutor worthy of respect would find mens rea on the record described by the FBI report. The comments after it appeared were basically unanimous among professionals. It’s clear why: some stupid stuff, no mens rea. No evidence that the US was hurt (although also no way to prove it wasn’t). You don’t want to accept that. I’m not sure why. The “classified information” stored on the server was as far as we can tell from the public record, almost entirely stuff that was retrospectively classified (and much of it also stuff that State disputes should be classified) – and public too – meaning that the potential harm to the US was tiny or zero.

          [FWIW (nothing), I once had a several high security clearances – all above Top Secret. I’d tell you what they were, but I literally signed an agreement promising not to reveal their names. Incidentally, I’ve seen every one of those names used in fictional thrillers in print or on TV in the years since I held them, some very shortly after getting the clearances. Security rules vary in their good sense and importance. The secrets I learned were pretty worthless too. But I suspect that the fact that the US had acquired them, and the circumstances in which that might have happened, was genuinely significant at the time and for all I know to this day.]

          In order to maintain the belief that Clinton did something criminal, rather than stupid, you have to believe that the FBI did a whitewash. But you haven’t explained why it would do that. Comey was a Bush official. He’s no friend of the Clintons. If he says there’s nothing there from a legal point of view, why isn’t that more than good enough for you?

          It’s just not enough for you to accept that the server was a dumb idea, ordered by a person who isn’t very technically savvy. She, like her predecessors, wanted a way to stay off the State Dept system which was NOTORIOUSLY hard to use. Powell did it too. (If we spent the money to give officials decent comms, this stuff wouldn’t happen.) It was a dumb move, and mixing the personal and the official dumber still. But it’s nowhere near criminal, and the point is that we have made an Everest out of a small hill. Weighed in the balance of a life of public service it’s not disabling.

          Compare Trump: Liar, tax cheat, huckster.

          It’s not a choice between two comparable evils. It’s at worst a choice between a second choice (maybe third for some) and a last choice. Between ice cream not quite your favorite flavor and poison.

          • Vic says:

            I think your statement about prosecutors is wrong on its face because MANY have come forward and stated that they would have prosecuted on what we know. (And obviously, there is more we don’t know, that a prosecutor might be privy to). And the thing about mens rea, as applied, is that it doesn’t always means what law school teaches you it means. If you have the mens rea to set up a server to keep all of your work emails from public view (which is itself a crime, when you are Secretary of State), it can be argued that that is ENOUGH mens rea to cover what worse crimes might occur while you use that server, if such are reasonably foreseeable. To say nothing of the fact that the applicable statute doesn’t really require it.

            And again, it doesn’t MATTER whether something was determined by a third party to be classified EVER, it matters whether it was classified at the time it was written, whether or not the person writing it thought it so or not. She was the Secretary of State, not an aid, not a functionary, not some worker-bee. She could not have done her very JOB without the constant exchange and creation of classified information. I’m not sure how anyone thinks its a stretch that Hillary had classified information on her server that satisfies EVERYONE’S slanted views of what is and is not classified. Was she Sec. State or not?

            As you say, there are things which will likely never be provable in any real sense, but you understand technology, don’t they give you pause? For example: There are pictures of her using personal devices while in places like China. Do you think there is ANY REASON AT ALL to presume that the Chinese don’t have a full record of whatever she was doing, whatever her communications were? Worse case scenario (and she and her aids are tech-stupid enough never to think about this), she was sending things, effectively in text, over Chinese servers! The fact is, we’ll never know, because this completely legal and above board operation was completely covered up by the destruction and loss of any evidence that can prove what happened. Do you think that was mere coincidence? Does your mom accidentally bleachbit her PC every so often, forcing you to reinstall Windows for her? Do normal people go through 13 devices in 2 years, destroying them with a hammer every couple of months? Do people generally say as a truth when being questioned about it by an authority that they only carry one device, then have pictures taken of them with two and three? If a drug dealer was accused of all this, we’d have no problem at all presuming and even convicting him based on obvious lies and destruction of evidence, but this is Hillary, so…

            She can’t be both clueless AND tech-saavy at the same time. She either knew exactly what she was doing and safeguarded things properly, or she didn’t. Institutions a lot more secure and tech-capable than she ever claimed to be were being hacked and penetrated all around her, why should we presume she was immune?

            I can’t answer why Comey did it. Only Comey can. We know why Justice decided not to prosecute (don’t kid yourself, it had nothing to do with Comey). Comey once felt that Mills was the Clinton fixer and accused her of obstruction of justice for doing exactly what she was accused of here, but he gave her immunity this time around. Why, I don’t know. We’ll just never know, and it’s sign of how bad our Federal Government has gotten that that is probably true. Let’s wait and see who Obama pardons on his way out the door.

            I don’t know what to tell you. I think, if you choose to look, it has become increasingly obvious that Washington has become a private club to which outsiders need not apply. The fear of Trump is in everyone and getting rid of his menace is 100% of everyone’s job right now. They’ll deal with their own however they choose. Dem or Rep makes no difference, it’s all the same club. You can choose to buy into their narrative, as you have, or start looking at what is going on. I don’t have any answers and I don’t know what I can tell you other than LOOK.

            • We could start with some facts. For example, people who know her all say that HRC is not technologically literate or adept. Thus, her techno-decisions will likely have been made in reliance on advice (or, conceivably, ignoring it). This includes how to destroy a device, and when it was OK to use a device.

              But to review the original point before you started flailing: The bottom line is that there’s no evidence that *Clinton* herself ever *knowingly* put classified info on her home server. (And indeed next to no evidence the *she* ever did it negligently either.)

              There’s also very little evidence, although not none, that anyone else did either, and in the very large majority of those cases we have reason to believe it was harmless stuff about news stories about drone strikes, or the equivalent info. That’s the nothingburger.

              Everything else on the subject of the emails is either smoke, or changing the subject to make smoke.

              • Vic says:

                And the REASON there is little to no evidence, is because there was never an actual investigation to find any. It was all a big show, just like the Trey Gowdy’s little for-show trials into Bengazi. THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT!!!

                Look, it’s like the Matrix (I’ll assume you get the reference). When you are IN it, you can’t see it. The Democrats and Republicans are both part of the same system. One has no interest in outing the other, because the natural result is an outing of the outer. This is an elite that rules us through the Administrative State. The Government that we pretend to vote for, only pretends to rule us. So long as well all agree to this Matrix, nothing changes and we can all have these silly little arguments about whether or not Comey did anything useful for anyone.

                But in the end, you will NEVER understand what is going on, and never understand why a vote for Trump (or really, even Stein) might matter. You are in the Matrix and that’s just how you think. (Before the Movie, we used to ponder whether a fish knows it’s in water – same idea generally.)

                Some homework for you that you MIGHT find interesting, if you can put the Matrix aside long enough to think it through. I don’t expect you to agree with it, but it MAY enlighten you to a whole new world of political thought that I imagine you aren’t aware of: Do a Google search for The Flight 93 Election.

                Again, I don’t imagine you’ll agree, but maybe you just MIGHT understand a little bit why at least SOME Conservatives are as disgusted with Republicans as they are with Democrats, and why Trump, disquieting though he is, seems an option that is not just plain crazy (as he is when you are in the matrix).

                I’ll leave this all with that, you can do the rest if you chose to think.

                • I think you are — I don’t say this lightly — borderline delusional as to your claim that the FBI didn’t investigate this very very thoroughly. Recall when Comey said he had 50 additional agents on the case?

                  It is clear that the FBI tried as hard as it could to find a smoking gun. See, for example, Comey: FBI looked ‘hard’ for obstruction of justice in Clinton email probe from Politico – no friend to Clinton. It is quite clear the FBI used the usual tactic of immunizing little fish in the hopes of catching big ones. But it didn’t work.

                  It might be rational to argue that the investigation failed because the Clinton gang has strong omerta and no one would talk. I think that would be wrong, but at least it wouldn’t be provably wrong.

                  The claim that the FBI didn’t do its best to make a case is provably wrong, and I say anyone who argues that has a problem.

      • Vic says:

        BTW, you might also consider in this why the President of the United States would state that he didn’t know anything about Hillary’s private server, but only learned about it later, from the press (giving him the acceptable pass that he didn’t actually LOOK at the email address he was using for her).

        Only to have it come out recently that he was actually sending her emails on that server, using a pseudonym. Emails that have been described as classified and kept private as Presidential privilege.

        Think about that for a while. Really THINK about it. The President of the United States used a pseudonym[!!!] to correspond with his Sec State, and now claims Privilege on the information. Amid speculation that State was being used as a conduit for the Clinton Foundation and helping donors get position in Government.

        Is there fire under this smoke? Maybe not. But think about it and see if you think it sounds perfectly reasonable and business as usual.

        • To the extent that we are concerned about HRC’s behavior, I don’t see what this tends to show.

          To the extent we’re haring off after other subjects, what I would guess is that the President was concerned about having his real email address appear anywhere outside a narrow circle of US government servers. Which seems sensible.

  6. how says:

    Just checked back on your site and saw this response to my comment — actually am a former law student at UM still living in Miami though about to move abroad – took a Spanish intensive that you were also a student in years ago – though you were in beginning section… I used to read your blog a lot – checked it out the other day, probably because of the political season… Your arguments fail to convince me to change my vote. And frankly I imagine there are many people who feel like I do. I also think its pretty obvious Trump is going to win. I don’t blame my vote for Nader, before Obama, as allowing Bush to win, it was Joe Lieberman. Frankly, I have never liked the Clintons and I won’t start now. I gave Obama a chance. I am somewhat happy that Obama has tried to make peace with Iran, but I think he could go further. I am livid he hasn’t done more to force a peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Hillary just represents all that I can’t stand. I am voting Jill Stein as a protest vote. I blame the democrats for forcing this nominee on us. I voted for Sanders in the primary, but I will not vote for a Clinton. I fully understand the Supreme Court and other domestic concerns, but frankly, I don’t care. I don’t support her, I don’t support Trump.

    • Hi! I have never been a Clinton fan, mostly because there were more liberal candidates. I too voted for Sanders. But if people like you turn out to be the margin of difference for Trump over Clinton, which could easily be the case, then I think you deserve the blame. There is simply no way to suggest the two are on the same page. If I can’t persuade you, have a look at the NYTimes’s editorials for Clinton and against Trump. Will that do it?

  7. Vic says:

    Since I can’t reply in the appropriate place above (I assume some nesting limit was reached), I’ll just briefly reply here:

    If you think that Comey saying that 50 agents, 100 agents, or 1000 agents were working on the investigation means anything other than the fact that he said that, then it is not me that’s delusional. If I am correct (and we will never know, really) then it simply would not matter. It should never be deemed delusional to loose trust in the word of a Government self-protecting bureaucracy.

    “It is quite clear the FBI used the usual tactic of immunizing little fish in the hopes of catching big ones. But it didn’t work.” You have to be kidding here! Little fishes?! These are the very people who, if you believe Clinton to be the feckless dupe that you apparently do, actually conceived of and committed the crime being investigated! There are no bigger fishes to get – other than Clinton, who according to you was only careless anyway. Maybe Huma, but under YOUR theory, maybe she was left un-immunized as a scare tactic to get her to testify against these mysterious bigger fishes involved. I’m sure this makes sense to you in some way, but it’s lost on me.

    The fact is, there is no proof whatsoever that the FBI did everything it could. The fact that more an more documents get leaked all the time showing areas that were not even investigated by the FBI, emails that the FBI never saw, actions that the FBI didn’t know about, and procedural oddities in the FBI’s work, SUGGESTS (I not saying proves) that there is a lot more to this than meets the eye.

    You can believe what you want. I’m not saying I have the answers at all – I don’t KNOW what happened, even if I think it clear that something did. But if you really don’t have any curiosity about any of this, and just accept what the bureaucrats have to say on the subject, in the belief that they would have no reason to protect themselves, then you aren’t as interesting as you seem to think you are.

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