Tag Archive: 2016 Elections

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: Russia waging cyber war against United States

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held an open hearing designed to lay out Russia‘s intentions and techniques (“active measures)” to influence the U.S. 2016 elections, and to propose actions and solutions to address them going forward. According to Independent Senator Angus King, from what he heard during the hearing, “we’re engaged in a new form of aggression, if not war,” from Russia. King’s statement echoed former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said a few days earlier that, “in some quarters,” Russia’s interference in the U.S. election “could be considered an act of war.” Witnesses at the hearing agreed that Russia is engaged in cyber “warfare” against the U.S. This is a crucial first step in investigating whether Donald Trump‘s campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

Donald Trump’s media mistake

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

For over 40 years, Donald Trump has been a media creature. He has successfully used the media, from his books to his TV and radio interviews to his reality TV shows to his tweets, to further his business and political interests. Trump’s love of the spotlight was well rewarded during the 2016 Republican primaries and general election with an astounding $2 billion or more of free media coverage. That’s why Trump’s rookie mistakes towards the media since stepping into the White House are so surprising.

Trump’s troubling ties to Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Several weeks ago, Donald Trump kicked off a constitutional crisis by firing the Acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, after Yates opposed Trump’s Muslim Ban. Since then, after rulings by numerous federal courts, Yates’ view has been validated. Now it turns out that another correct decision by Yates, regarding Russia, was ignored by Trump and his White House staff, with dire consequences.

The Republicans’ basic electoral problem

2012 electoral map

2012 electoral map

From the beginning of this election cycle, we have focused on cold hard math, because that’s how you know who is winning and who is likely to prevail. In a presidential election, the cold hard math is the state count of electoral votes. With just one day left before the 2016 elections, and after all the controversies, conspiracies and insults, plus widespread early voting, most of the electoral vote models show Hillary Clinton winning decisively over Donald Trump. These models include the Los Angeles Times with a whopping 352 electoral votes for Clinton, Real Clear Politics with 301 EVs for Clinton when “toss-up” states are assigned, and virtually every other scientific prediction showing Clinton well ahead even before assigning the toss-ups.

The oft-neglected fact about this election is that, since electoral votes are based on state population, the Republicans have a basic electoral problem: they are more popular in states with fewer people and thus fewer electoral votes. In essence, the GOP had a steep uphill climb before this campaign even began.

Donald Trump’s dangerous endgame

Anti-Trump protesters in Dallas, Texas

Anti-Trump protesters in Dallas, Texas

Not long ago, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had a well-organized, unifying end to their Democratic Party primary battle. Both sides acted like adults, sat down and negotiated over the party platform and the Democratic National Convention. The result was a hugely successful convention and a more unified Democratic Party, after which Clinton took the general election lead from Donald Trump. As new revelations about Trump’s sexually predatory behavior pile up, Clinton’s lead has extended to the point where nearly no one, including Republicans, says that Trump can win. The question now becomes, how will Trump lose, and what will he do afterward? Unfortunately, the signs thus far point to an ugly and dangerous electoral withdrawal from Donald Trump.

The Republican Party, lost in the wilderness

Donald Trump behind Hillary Clinton at 2nd presidential debate.

Donald Trump behind Hillary Clinton at 2nd presidential debate.

Elections are about math, and, with about 27 days to go before the 2016 elections, the math is not looking good for Republicans. Donald Trump is not only losing the presidential election, he may be taking down the GOP with him, including its majority in the U.S. Senate, and even jeopardizing the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Trump is now engaged in a bloody battle with leading Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking Republican in America, as well as GOP stalwarts such as John McCain. Panic is setting in among some Republican office holders and donors alike, and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are exploiting this GOP Civil War. Where did things go so wrong?

The Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump fantasy love fest

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at their first presidential debate

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at their first presidential debate

The 2016 presidential campaign has been relentlessly negative. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their campaign teams, surrogates and supporters, have been bashing each other with zeal. That may be electoral politics as usual, but it doesn’t bode well for governing the country, or having Americans united on important issues around the world, once the election is over. Accordingly, here is an admittedly fantasy scenario of how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could come together at their next debate over one simple question, without sacrificing their principles:

Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump in the debate and the expectations game

"If you could vote for anyone" Clinton vs. Trump

“If you could vote for anyone” Clinton vs. Trump

In their first presidential debate last night, expectations were set unfairly high for Hillary Clinton and unfairly low for Donald Trump. Surprisingly, however, Clinton exceeded and Trump fell short of such expectations. In terms of substance, style and presidential temperament, the contrast between the two candidates was stark, and Clinton walked away with a decisive win. 

The presidential election now turns on bigotry

"Will Trade Racists For Refugees" jacket, Santa Cruz, CA, July 2016

“Will Trade Racists For Refugees” jacket, Santa Cruz, CA, July 2016

Last Friday, Donald Trump made a stunning announcement, wrapped in a live infomercial for him and his new hotel, that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. This was a complete flip-flop for Trump, who began his presidential campaign on the “birther” conspiracy, falsely questioning President Obama’s birthplace and his birth certificate. When did Trump change his mind? Did he always believe that Obama is a full-blooded American and just lie all along to attract right wing extremists, including white supremacists? Trump didn’t stick around to answer these and other questions from the press.

Trump’s birther announcement comes at a time when America is being racked by police killings of unarmed black citizens. Yesterday, Tulsa, Oklahoma white police officer Betty Shelby was charged with first degree manslaughter for killing a black man, Terence Crutcher, who was waiting for help after his car had become disabled. In Charlotte, North Carolina, police killed Keith Lamont Scott who was waiting for his son to leave school for the day. Protesters have taken to the streets in Charlotte, as they have done in Ferguson, Missouri and many other locations after previous police killings of black Americans. It doesn’t help that, even though the Charlotte police killing of Keith Lamont Scott was caught on one or more police videos, the police are refusing to release the video.

These events and others are overshadowing the 2016 presidential election, largely turning it into a referendum on bigotry in America.