Why Hillary Lost, According to Hillary
Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well (Blog), Dec 20 2016
It wasn’t her fault. The Clinton campaign, and Hillary herself, summed up her loss by blaming FBI Director Comey as an individual, the FBI as an organization, and of course the Russians and the Russians and the Russians and Putin himself for the loss. “Angry white men” got tagged as well. Nobody likes Huma Abedin anymore, either. That’s pretty much it.
In a speech to her wealthiest donors, as a group kinda wondering what happened to the approximately $1b they gave to the campaign, Clinton was damn paranoid perfectly on point:
Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election … because he has a personal beef against me.
Clinton laid out her scenario clearly, basically that based on some remarks she made in 2011 that Russian elections were not fair, Putin lay in wait for five years until he could hack the DNC emails and crush Hillary’s chances to win against one of the most amateur campaigners ever to join a Pindosi election.
Hillary went on to say the hacking was only one of two “unprecedented” events that led to her defeat. The other was the release of a letter by Comey shortly before the election disclosing new questions about emails handled by her private server. The letter, she said, cost her close races in several battleground states. “Swing-state voters made their decisions in the final days breaking against me because of the FBI letter” not that there was actually any evidence of that. The ever-dutiful NYT added:
In Moscow, fear of Mrs Clinton has loomed as large or larger than any warmth for Mr Trump.. … Liberals say Mr Trump’s victory is proof that the Electoral College is biased against big states and undemocratically marginalizes urban and nonwhite voters, (so he) was lucky.
The Entire FBI, Maybe Also Obama
As for the FBI as an organization defeating Hillary beyond the Comey letter, that charge was lead by DNC Chair Donna Brazile, who said Russian hackers persisted in trying to break into the organization’s computers “daily, hourly” until after the election, contradicting Obama’s assertion that the hacking stopped in September after he warned Vladimir Putin to “cut it out.” Clinton campaign chief John Podesta said the FBI did not provide adequate cyber-security help to the DNC, and accused the Trump campaign of direct collusion with the Russians.
Angry White Men
Last to pile on was the Old Dog himself, Bill Clinton, who told the world, or actually just a handful of media in Katonah, New York:
Trump doesn’t know much (but he does know) how to get angry white men to vote for him.
When asked about Russian cyber-attacks, Bill said:
You would need to have a single-digit IQ not to recognize what was going on.
Left unmentioned in the Clinton list of reasons she lost were the private email server, her clear violations of national security, the tangled relationship among many State Dept decisions, access to her as Sec State, and the Clinton Foundation, the vast sums of money she earned from the Wall Street firms she promised to reign in, the hypocrisy of accepting large sums of money from foreign governments in general, and specifically, how her claimed support for the rights of women and girls can coexist with millions of dollars of Foundation donations from Arab nations with some of the worst human rights records toward women, and how her core argument that nothing was illegal, ignored the more important questions of what kind of honesty, ethics and transparency. Plus any strengths Trump as a candidate may have had and the judgement of the Pindo creeple, whatever. So hey, Democrats, here’s a bonus tip! If you select a weak candidate with as much political baggage as Clinton carried, and blame everything on “someone else,” then try and overturn the election via needless recounts, active campaigns to upset the Electoral College, timed leaks from the CIA and threats of impeachment, then you will probably lose the next time too.
The Terrifying Executive We Need for the Wrong Reasons
Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well (Blog), Dec 18 2016
I understand why all of the often false, usually bombastic, reporting on Trump is angering me. You know the stuff: take a “fact,” real or fully made up, and conflate it with some apocalyptic prediction. Watch: how Trump alternates between wearing boxers and briefs. Will his indecisiveness cause him to pull back when Pindostan is attacked by the Russians? The other story everyone writes now is based on the journalist’s apparent post-Nov 9 discovery of an element of fascism, racism and/or parts of the Constitution and presidential practice. And so someone is shocked that Trump will be able to choose drone kill targets, or have access to everything the NSA sweeps up about his enemies. The first type of stories are just pathetic, kiddies with pencils seeing what they can get away with, journalists working out in public their disbelief that someone like Trump won, people witnessing their first presidential transition and not dealing with it well. Those stories will fade away, or move to the tabloids where they’ll find a home aside Elvis and Roswell. The latter stories, the ones worrying about what Trump will do with the power of _____ are more worrisome. The ascribe fear of executive power and a government run amuck to one man, someone they loathe, Trump. They ignore that these powers, of which we should all be legitimately terrified, are not of a man but of our system. Trump, per se, for example, doesn’t control drone killings, the executive does. Bush killed, Obama killed, the president after Trump will kill. Same for the NSA: they all had, and future presidents will have, the ability to spy on anyone. By focusing on one man, we imagine any solutions will rest in getting rid of this man (recount! electoral college! impeachment!) That is dangerous. Any solutions (I’m not optimistic) must be changes to the system of ever-growing executive power. In that sense, perhaps the election of someone so obvious in his erratic statements, so oafish in his behavior, may be for the best. A bucket of cold well water to the face might be what’s needed for a citizenry that allowed one president to sell all his acquisition of power via a faux-sincere monologue of fearmongering, and another on the strength of his coolness and personal trust. The change has to be to the system, not the person. In that sense, perhaps Trump will be the president we need, if not the one we wanted.
You Opened the Box…
Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well (Blog), Dec 16 2016
Once you let the genie out of the bottle, you can’t stuff him back in. Attempts to overturn the results of our election, or to delegitimize a president before he even takes office, are attempts to overturn the system of transfer of power that has served Pindostan since its earliest days. There is no measure of exaggeration here: Pindosis are questioning the results of the election because roughly half don’t like the guy who won. Somehow things are … special this year. In most elections, a good-sized group of us see our candidate lose, grumble, and move on to some degree. I don’t think Trump will be a good president, but I also do not think he will burn civil rights to the ground, destroy life on the planet, sell Alaska back to Russia, or invade China with Omarosa some drunk weekend. In what in another era would be left for conspiracy theorists to contemplate, for the first time in our nation’s history powerful mainstream forces are trying to change the results of an election. Shocked by Trump’s victory, and fearing his presidency, they want to stop him from entering the White House. The belief seems to be that he is such a threat that it is necessary to destroy a part of democracy in Pindostan to save it. Some efforts are silly, online petitions demanding, somehow, Clinton become president, or bleating that her popular vote victory matters somehow within the existing electoral process. Here’s one asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the election. Others call for a magic do-over, a new election.
Political scientists claim they maybe have found untested ways for the Electoral College to vote for Clinton, or to postpone a vote. But after that it gets very serious. Pindostan’s foreign intelligence service, the CIA, via anonymous leaks to the NYT, NBC, and the WaPo, declared Russia actively and purposefully interceded in our election in favor of Donald Trump. Trump was elected, in part, by the work of Russian cyber-black-ops. It is important to unpack what the accusations driving this are: someone working for the Russian government broke into the DNC + Podesta Gmail accounts and delivered those emails to
places like Wikileaks & DC Leaks in conditions that the Clinton campaign said were by and large bogus or altered, and that these emails that few voters read influenced the election so that Trump rather than Clinton won the electoral vote. Trump’s strengths and Clinton weaknesses as candidates were not significant enough to have swayed the electoral count 74 votes in Trump’s favor on their own. At the same time, for these accusations to matter, President Trump will act in favor of Russian interests and against those of Pindostan. Choosing ‘Bonkers’ Bolton as #2 at Foggy Bottom already seems counter to that. The accusations against Trump can rise to the level of treason, a capital crime, the most serious crime a Pindostani can commit against his country. Some are speculating Trump was a willing participant in any Russian ops. All is supposed to be revealed in the form of some sort of investigation.
Leaving how clever use of redactions can present “evidence” in misleading ways, intelligence assessments are rarely black-and-white, especially when seeking to explain why an action took place, its ultimate political goal. An intelligence service can conclude with reasonable confidence (for example) that Country X executed 12 dissidents last week. It is much harder to say why, or why now, or why those 12, or why not a different group, or what those executions mean in the longer game of local politics. So while technical means may be able to point to a hacker with connections to Russia, although hackers include leaving false clues in their tradecraft, moving from whether any hacks were standard information-gathering as engaged in by all sides, or an active part of a campaign to change the course of our election, is a tough job. So those who expect a black-and-white report on what they Russians did, why they did it, and how it affected the election, are very unlikely to get it. So what will be done? The current focus is on the Electoral College voting on Monday Dec 19 to put Hillary Clinton into the White House. That would require breaking with some 224 years of practice, moving against the will of about half of Pindosi voters who acted in good faith under the current system believing their vote would be assessed by the rules and practices in place, and destroying the orderly transfer of power that marks a democracy. But if Trump prevails in the Electoral College, what next? There is no Constitutional allowance for a second election. Bomb Moscow? Keep Barack Obama in power? Dispatch a lynch mob to Trump Tower?
Well, of course not. Probably. Instead we will enter a new administration with a delegitimized president, under the shadow of multiple conspiracy theories, accusations, hearings, investigations and likely threats to of impeachment proceedings. Every decision President Trump makes, as with his every Cabinet choice now, will be weighed against the accusations. Pindostan’s Russia policy (in Europe, the MENA, Asia) will be held hostage to rumors and leaks. A divided Pindostan will become more divided. The Bush-Gore election of 2000 was contested right into the Supreme Court. The differences, however, are significant. The post-election fight took place between two men still candidates, to decide a winner. Trump is the President Elect, and the process, whatever it is, seeks to overturn, not decide, that result. In Bush-Gore, once the Court declared a winner, the results were accepted, albeit reluctantly by some, and Pindostan moved on. Lastly, the struggle between Bush and Gore took place in open court, not via leaks and classified documents. There is also the argument, basically a variation of “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” that Pindosis should be willing to submit to post-election recounts and investigations, themselves often inconclusive or subject to another round of questions, to “prove” nothing went amiss.
There is danger in confusing a potential body blow to the electoral process, seeking to overturn a completed election, with casting it all as benign verification. An additional danger is in the McCarthyesque conflating of opposition to these efforts with a lack of patriotism, and by invalid extension, support for Pindostan’s enemies. To remain skeptical is to stand against Pindostan itself. To question the CIA is to disrespect our intelligence professionals. Journalists who do not support the accusations are said to be either active Russian agents of influence or “useful idiots” too dumb to know they are being manipulated. The real impact of all this will be felt long past Trump’s tenure. Democrats, Republicans and players such as the CIA will have four years to consider how this process of delegitimizing a President-Elect could work more effectively next time. The people who support extra-Constitutional steps now because of Donald Trump will find those same steps will be available in later elections, to use against a candidate they favor. Voting can potentially become only a preliminary gesture, with real struggle only starting after the election itself. Many are deeply upset Hillary Clinton lost. Many are unsure, even fearful, of a Trump presidency. But once you let the genie of trying to overturn an election loose, you won’t be able to stop it next time.