Times Reporter: Hey Hillary, You Fact-Checked Trump, But You Should Have Fact-Checked Him Harder

Times Reporter: Hey Hillary, You Fact-Checked Trump, But You Should Have Fact-Checked Him Harder

Credit: Getty Image


Donald Trump uttered a lot of nonsense last night — and according to Jeremy Peters of The New York Times, the person we should blame is Hillary Clinton:

Time after time, Mrs. Clinton passed up the opportunity to correct Mr. Trump on his misstatements and his frequent stretching of the truth.

An example?

In a typical exchange, Mrs. Clinton tried to refute Mr. Trump as he boasted of how he would have the greatest tax plan since Ronald Reagan. “That can’t be left to stand,” she said. “I kind of assumed there would be a lot of these charges and claims.”

But Mr. Trump quickly cut her off. “Facts,” he said. The conversation quickly moved on.

You’d never know from Peters’s description that Clinton actually did refute Trump, or that any haste or lack of completeness in her refutation resulted not only from Trump’s hectoring but from Lester Holt making one of his rare efforts to actually play moderator.

Trump evoked Reagan, said his plan would be full of tax cuts and deregulation, and asserted that Clinton’s plan would raise taxes and increase regulations. Here’s what happened after that:

HOLT: Let me get you to pause right there, because we’re going to move into — we’re going to move into the next segment. We’re going to talk taxes…

CLINTON: That can’t — that can’t be left to stand.

HOLT: Please just take 30 seconds and then we’re going to go on.

CLINTON: I kind of assumed that there would be a lot of these charges and claims, and so…

TRUMP: Facts.

CLINTON: So we have taken the home page of my website, HillaryClinton.com, and we’ve turned it into a fact-checker. So if you want to see in real-time what the facts are, please go and take a look. Because what I have proposed…

TRUMP: And take a look at mine, also, and you’ll see.

CLINTON: … would not add a penny to the debt, and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it’s time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country.

(Emphasis added.)

So she did refute him — just not hard enough to satisfy Peters.

Oh, but this is my favorite Peters assertion:

There were times he made up his own facts. And Mrs. Clinton did not take the opportunities she had to prove him wrong.

She could have corrected Mr. Trump after he interrupted her to falsely claim that she was inaccurate in saying that murders in New York City were down.

Did you follow that? Peters is chastising Clinton because she didn’t rebut Trump’s assertions about crime in New York City after she’d already rebutted them. In other words, as far as Peters was concerned, it wasn’t enough that Clinton asserted that the murder rate in New York City is down — it didn’t count as a rebuttal because she didn’t say ittwice.

Here’s the exchange:

TRUMP: … in New York City, stop-and-frisk, we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. It’s hard to believe, 500 is like supposed to be good?

But we went from 2,200 to 500. And it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by current mayor. But stop-and- frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.

CLINTON: Well, it’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is…

TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong.

CLINTON: No, I’m not.

TRUMP: Murders are up. All right. You check it.

She said it. He said she was wrong. She said, “No, I’m not.” What else was she supposed to do after that?Recite all the incident-level data from memory? I’m not clear on where she fell short.

Incidentally, this was fact-checked in real time by the NYPD:


But Clinton failed, as far as Peters is concerned, because she didn’t hector Trump into a state of abject submission. Sorry, but that wasn’t her job. She did more than enough.

By Steve M.

Bill Clinton Destroys Donald Trump In One Sentence On ‘Daily Show’


He also pointed out what he called the country’s “one remaining bigotry.”

Bill Clinton only needed one sentence to deftly explain why wife Hillary would be a better presidential choice than GOP nominee Donald Trump.

On Thursday night’s “Daily Show,” Clinton skewered The Donald by pointing out the difference between his supporters and Hillary’s.

“Most of her strongest supporters have either worked for her or done business with him,” he quipped.

Despite the polarization that exists in America, Clinton believes the country is in a better position than it has ever been.

“America has come so far,” he said. “We’re less racist, sexist, homophobic and anti specific religions than we used to be. We have one remaining bigotry: We don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with us.”

The audience quietly laughed, which Clinton believed proved his point.

“The crowd’s laughing, but they didn’t laugh loud because they know I’m telling the truth,” he said.

David Moye

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar,rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.


Clinton’s health is Obama’s birth certificate all over again: A barely disguised way for conservatives to wallow in bigotry

Clinton's health is Obama's birth certificate all over again: A barely disguised way for conservatives to wallow in bigotry

Hillary Clinton leaves her daughter Chelsea’s home in New York City, September 11, 2016. (Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder)


Any other year, a presidential candidate who got wobbly at a 9/11 memorial service because he was battling a minor case of pneumonia would be regaled as a hero. How tough and patriotic he is to brave the summer heat while wearing a Kevlar vest, even though his doctor told him to stay in bed for a couple days!

But since the candidate in question is a she and not a he, the narrative is very different this time around. Now that it’s Hillary Clinton, everyone’s wondering if Grandma is too weak and fragile for the job. Never mind that she’s running against a man who is himself an elderly grandfather or that most presidents have been older men. Or that, as Digby noted in Salon on Monday, previous male presidents have had a slew of common health problems, from the flu to cancer surgery. Or that getting sick occasionally is just the price you pay for being human.

“Have you told everyone every time you’ve come to work with a bad cold?” Sady Doyle, a feminist author whose upcoming book “Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why” looks at how women in the public eye are shamed for having human flaws that we tend to forgive in men.

“It’s very strange to me because we know that campaigns are long and grueling and candidates are working seven days a week. They don’t get a lot of sleep. They’re constantly on airplanes and buses and shaking hands with strangers,” Doyle added. “We know they get tired. We know they get sick. But with Hillary there is this weird, conspiratorial, possessive attitude.”

The hysteria over Clinton’s having health problems is “uniquely tied to her gender,” Doyle said.

“The fact is that Trump is older than her,” Doyle continued, noting that Bernie Sanders is 6 years older, as well.

“But she is the one we want to see as this withered up, useless old crone,” she said. “We want to believe that an older woman is not capable of contributing to the world in any important way. For that reason, people are exaggerating and exaggerating concerns about her age, which is coded as physical fitness.”

A huge part of the reason that this episode is catching so much media attention is that, for weeks now, Trump has been making insinuations about Clinton’s “stamina” and allowing his right-wing shock troops to spread ridiculous myths about her health. Even Wikileaks got in on the misogynist feeding frenzy by putting up a poll — which it quickly deleted — inviting people to speculate about Clinton’s body.

Previous presidential candidates have endured partisan chatter about their health, of course. Sen. John McCain’s disability has been the source of speculation, as has President Barack Obama’s history as a smoker. But there’s never been this much attention paid to a candidate’s body.

Women are perceived as public property in the way men are not, which is why “nip slips” and “upskirts” are a much bigger business than monitoring the state of celebrity penises.

Trump, in particular, has a long history of displaying outright disgust at any evidence that women have biological bodies. As I noted on a Facebook live video for Salon, the list of instances where Trump has shamed women for having normal and basic bodily functions is as long as your arm.

Or this lovely exchange, from “The Howard Stern Show”:

Trump: Howard let me just ask you. You said something a while ago about Beth that amazed me because it applies to Melania. You said you’ve never seen her do anything, like, bad, in terms of her own personal.

Stern: That’s true. She would never even do another chick.

Trump: No, no, not even that. You said you’ve never heard her fart.

Stern: Not only is that true, she doesn’t make doody. She hasn’t made doody . . .

Trump: I can say the exact same thing about Melania.

 I cut much of it because they talked, at length, about their shared obsession with believing that women don’t — or shouldn’t, anyway — have normally functioning digestive systems.

Or last December, Trump went on a rant shaming Clinton for using a commercial break during a primary debate to use the bathroom.

“I know where she went — it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it,” Trump sneered, though he clearly wanted to talk about it. “No, it’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.”

And who can forget what he said about Fox News host Megan Kelly, when he was angry with her for asking him tough questions during a primary debate: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

Or what attorney Elizabeth Beck said about how Trump reacted during a meeting when she asked for a break to breastfeed: “He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there.”

Ann Friedman wrote for the Los Angeles Times, “Historically, women’s physical weakness relative to men has been used as an excuse to prevent us competing for everything from corporate promotions to Olympic medals.” She added, “A similar fallacy about female fragility crops up in politics.”

But there is no evidence-based reason to think Clinton is fragile. In fact, quite the opposite is the case.

“A 68-year-old woman, with pneumonia, still kept a schedule that most of us wouldn’t make it through, flying here and there, holding multiple events and briefings a day,”Eric Schmeltzer wrote in The Huffington Post. “That’s not weak. That’s actually strong and tough as hell.”

If she were a man, it would be easy to see that, especially when the opponent is Trump, a man who rejects the grinding schedule of the typical presidential campaignin favor of flying home, in his private jet, to sleep in his own bed. It’s hard to not notice that Trump’s preferred outreach — rallies and phone calls to cable news shows — are exactly the sort of activities that make it a lot easier to sleep in your own bed at night, whereas Clinton maintains a grueling campaign schedule.

This fits into history, as well. Trump isn’t shy about his hatred of traveling overseas and he famously once nearly lost out on an important business deal because he didn’t want to travel to China and eat foreign food. Clinton, in contrast, was the secretary of state and kept a schedule — including mountains of foreign travel — so dense that her two-and-a-half year stint resulted in 3,721 pages of schedule.

(Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager, is reportedly trying to steer Trump away from the rally-heavy schedule and toward more time-intensive voter- outreach efforts, and it will be fun to see if her efforts have an influence over her notoriously stubborn — and travel-averse — candidate.)

The feigned concerns over Clinton’s health strongly resemble the feigned concerns that Obama was faking his natural born citizenship, right down to the posturing about how this is all the target’s fault for not providing more and more documentation — to drive home how much those of us who aren’t white men cannot be trusted. In both cases, it’s about wallowing in ugly stereotypes — that black people aren’t patriots, that women are inherently fragile — without admitting that’s what’s going on.

And no surprise that the person behind the Clinton health hysteria is also the same man who was pushing the Obama birth certificate hysteria: Donald Trump.

Amanda Marcotte

Colin Powell’s Office Apparently Said He Did Tell Hillary to Use Personal Email at Dinner Party


Nothing anyone learns about the Hillary Clinton“Emailgate” controversy seems to have any effect on the Democratic presidential nominee’s favorability ratings, but recent revelations could take a bit of a toll on fellow former Secretary of State Colin Powell‘s reputation. On the heels of a newly-uncovered email that contradicted some of what he’s said in the past, it turns out that when Powell denied advising Hillary Clinton to use personal email at a dinner party for former secretaries of state, he was denying something that he, himself, supplied.

Powell said, last month, that he never told Hillary anything about personal email until a year after she started at State, and through a spokesperson, denied talking about it at a dinner party that’s described in Joe Conason‘s new book. Or should I say, Powell’s spokesperson said he had “no recollection” of the dinner conversation at the home of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, an important detail given what Conason said Tuesday morning:

I think around the time she was sworn in, and that’s the time of the e-mail, January 2009, and then the dinner at Madeline Albright’s house that I talk about in the book happens months later, when she invited former secretaries to come and advise the new secretary what to do, and Powell repeated his advice there at the dinner, use your personal email, it was transformative for the department, and the problem of when he tried to deny what was in the book, I had an e-mail exchange with his principle assistant, a woman named Peggy Cifrino, who told me when the dinner was and what he said at it.

That’s right, the source of the anecdote that Colin Powell’s office denied knowing about was Colin Powell’s office. In fact, according to Peggy Cifrino‘s bio, she is Powell’s spokesperson. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice couldn’t remember the exchange, either, according to her spokesperson. Maybe Conason should check his email on that one, too.


Wikileaks Admits To Screwing Up IMMENSELY With Twitter Poll On Hillary’s Health

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Featured image by Carl Court/Getty Images


Wikileaks, which is more a conspiracy enterprise than it is a whistleblowing watchdog these days,put up a poll on Twitter that asked users to tell them which health issue they thought was causing Hillary’s coughing fits and “unusual body movements.” All four of their answers have been bandied about by conservatives everywhere, as they try and diagnose Hillary in a frantic attempt to prove she’s unfit to be President.

They’ve since deleted the poll and put a tweet in its place that’s supposed to be a sort of retraction and apology, or as close as Wikileaks will ever get to admitting they royally screwed up. However, the Internet is keeping the poll and publishing it everywhere they can. Buzzfeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski republished a screencap of it while needling Wikileaks about transparency, since that’s what Wikileaks was supposed to be about before they turned into conspiracy theorists with a hate-on for Hillary:

Wikileaks’ apparently didn’t like the flack they were catching for that poll, though, and tweeted out their non-apology accordingly:

They should know that poll is never going to die, though, and their non-apology is almost as insulting as the poll. They revel in this kind of thing, along with the backlash involved — in fact, they have yet to remove the credit card information of DNC donors from their collection of the hacked emails, despite the outrage over that.

Hillary left the 9/11 event she was attending early and appeared to collapse before being helped into a van. Her campaign later revealed that she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia, and that she was overheated and dehydrated, which can happen when someone’s sick and in the sun. Her doctor later said that she was recovering nicely from this episode.

Seeing as how a lot of people have completely forgotten, here’s a little reminder that this isn’t unprecedented: In 2002, George W. Bush passed out in the White House after eating a pretzel.After eating a pretzel. Apparently, it went down wrong and “stimulated a nerve that…decreased his heart rate.” Enough for him to faint.

But Hillary momentarily succumbing to an illness while standing in the sun is some sort of scandal. Right.

The medical term for what happened to Bush is vasovagal syncope, and it’s actually quite common. So are run-of-the-mill respiratory infections that lead to pneumonia when left unchecked, even in presidential candidates. Hillary’s schedule has been grueling, to say the least, and yet she’s supposed to either be a super woman and never get sick, or admit that even the merest cold means she’s too sick to run for President.

The haters, however, are looking for any shred of evidence they can find that “proves” Hillary is unfit to serve. Wikileaks decided to take it too far.

Rika Christensen

Self-proclaimed “genius” reaches new highs in stupidity: Trump puts his incompetence on full display

Donald Trump (Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)


Trump’s candidacy is an ugly joke — but insidious racism and media idiocy have kept him within striking distance

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a former United States senator and secretary of state with decades of experience as a public servant. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a real estate developer and reality TV star. He has never held public office. According to new national polling data on the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton and Trump are in a virtual tie. How did this happen?

There are many reasons. Primarily, both candidates are viewed negatively by large segments of the American public. The U.S. economy has also experienced a relatively anemic recovery (in terms of wages and wealth) from the Great Recession of the George W. Bush years.

Furthermore, the American electorate is highly partisan and polarized. As Election Day in November approaches — and despite whatever misgivings voters may feel — it is much more likely than not that individuals will solidify their support for their political party’s chosen candidate.

These foundational factors have combined to create a close presidential race.

The American news media, much of it owned and controlled by large corporations, has also played a significant role in keeping Hillary Clinton within reach of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is an atypical presidential candidate who has utter disregard for the standing norms of American politics and even less respect for the Fourth Estate. This has allowed him to outmaneuver and manipulate many journalists and pundits. They feel beholden, or perhaps enslaved, to norms of “objectivity,” “fairness” and “balance.” Trump feels no such limitations.

By some estimates, the American media has given Trump at least $3 billion worth of free coverage. The 24/7 cable news cycle and the media’s corporate culture have fueled an obsession with creating a “horse race” and a willingness to massage, distort and misrepresent events in order to sustain that narrative. For example, the media continues to manufacture “scandals” about Clinton’s emails while ignoring or underplaying Trump’s misdeeds, from the buying of political influence and various documented acts of political corruption to his encouragement of election tampering by a foreign power, his questionable business practices and other instances ofunethical behavior.

The sum effect of these dynamics (aided by no small amount of cowardice among the pundit classes) is that the American corporate news media has buttressed and legitimated Trump. In all, this amounts to grading on a curve. Hillary Clinton is an A student being held to an impossibly high standard and punished for minor mistakes. Donald Trump is a D student, at best, who is being marked up to an A minus because the teacher is afraid of his parents.

The impact of white racism and racial resentment on American politics also plays a large role in explaining why Clinton and Trump are so close in the polls. Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, a nativist and a fascist. The Republican Party in the post-Civil Rights era has become the United States’ largest de facto white identity organization. It also attracts white authoritarians. Trump’s selection as the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee is the nearly inevitable outcome of almost five decades of the “Southern strategy” pioneered by Pat Buchanan in 1968, as well as a broader right-wing electoral politics that is based first and foremost on mobilizing white voters and demobilizing nonwhites.

Moreover, despite the media’s discussion of the so-called alt-right, which is little more than an ideological smoke screen, Trump and his supporters are not outliers or aberrations in the Republican Party. They are its unapologetic base and its political id. Right-wing elites may be turned off by Trump’s lack of polish, but his core message, attitudes and values resonate among mainstream Republicans. This gives Trump a deep reservoir of preexisting support.

In some ways, Trump began his 2016 political foray in 2011 with the racist conspiracy known as “birtherism.” Five years later, 72 percent of Republicans still express doubtthat Barack Obama was born in the United States.

During the Republican campaign, Trump proposed banning all Muslim noncitizens from entering the United States. Seventy-one percent of Republicans supported it.

Social scientists have demonstrated that “old-fashioned” racism is resurgent in America and can now be used to predict whether a given white voter will support the Republican Party. Anti-black animus is also highly correlated with hostility to Barack Obama. Other work has demonstrated that racial animus has a “hangover” effect that can impact a given white person’s attitudes and beliefs about ostensibly race-neutral policy issues, like public transit and infrastructure projects, which may be perceived as benefiting blacks.

The ascendancy of Donald Trump has also empowered white supremacists and other hate groups to bolster their recruitment efforts. The Independent reports that white nationalist groups are growing at a higher rate than ISIS, at least in terms of social-media presence.

These are abstract facts and the results of social science research. They are essential and extremely important. The passions and rage that Donald Trump has summoned, however, also help to explain why he is able to be so competitive with Hillary Clinton.

Trump is the beneficiary of a populist moment of discontent in American and global politics. While Bernie Sanders’ progressive version of populism was inclusive, cosmopolitan and forward-thinking, Trump’s populism appeals to racism, tribalism and reactionary thinking. Trump is also a political necromancer, deftly skilled in manipulating white conservatives’ anxieties and fears of both generational and cultural obsolescence.

This political moment and broader atmosphere has resulted in some ugly events. Trump supporters have attacked and beaten immigrants. Violence against protesters at Trump rallies has become commonplace. Several weeks ago  a Trump supporter stabbed an interracial couple at a restaurant in Olympia, Washington. White supremacists have been emboldened by Trump’s rise to power in the Republican Party. They openly attend his rallies and other events and see him as a champion for their cause. In August a white supremacist killed a 19-year-old black teenager by running him over with a vehicle. Trump has embraced the implicit racist sentiment channeled by “All Lives Matter” and has described Black Lives Matter members as thugs and criminals who are a threat to public order. Paul LePage, the Trump-like governor of Maine, recently suggested that blacks and Latinos were the “enemy” of police and deserved to be shot.

While many political observers like to pretend that the racially toxic civic atmosphere that spawned Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party was an unexpected surprise, it was foreshadowed during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008. While this factor may seem almost irrelevant at the end of his two successful terms in office, it is estimated that white racism cost Barack Obama 3 to 5 percentage points in the final presidential vote that year.

Obama’s election spawned a vicious reaction on the right. Racially resentful white conservatives flocked to the Tea Party faction. To undermine Obama’s constitutional powers, congressional Republicans refused to follow through on basic responsibilities of governance (such as raising the debt ceiling so that the government could continue to operate). Right-wing media outlets made increasingly inflammatory, racist and bizarre claims about the country’s first black president. Movement conservatives and the broader Republican Party openly discussed a second American Civil War with overtones of Southern slave owners’ beliefs in their right to “nullification” and “secession.”

At its core, politics is a struggle over resources and values. These struggles and their outcomes can be described as “push and pull factors,” “continuity and change” or “thesis and antithesis.” Political struggles, even in a democracy, do not usually result in a type of equilibrium where all parties benefit equally. Shorter version: There are winners and losers.

Donald Trump has been made competitive with Hillary Clinton because of a complicit media, the structural and institutional features of America’s two-party system and political culture and the power of white identity politics and racism. This will get Trump close to the finish line but not over it. Clinton has substantial leads in crucial swing states, and many more paths to victory in the Electoral College. Ultimately, Donald Trump burned all his racist, nativist and pseudo-fascist fuel in order to reach political orbit. He cannot sustain his altitude and will soon come crashing down. The question then becomes who gets caught in the political conflagration and what level of collateral damage will follow.

Chauncey DeVega

Trump’s Claim That Putin Is A Better Leader Than Obama Is Utterly Insane

Trump’s Claim That Putin Is A Better Leader Than Obama Is Utterly Insane

Photo via Kremlin.ru


Since last night’s Commander-in-Chief forum on NBC, Republicans have been on the defensive about Donald Trump’s reiterated praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s what Trump said:

“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” Trump said of the Russian president. “The man has very strong control over a country.”

The GOP nominee added that Putin has been a leader “far more than our president’s been a leader.”

Essentially, Trump’s case for why Putin is a good leader is this: 1. The Russian president has high approval ratings; 2. He has complimented Trump.

We know that there are few things Trump values more than polls and praise.

With that said, the Republican nominee’s decision to wrap his arms around Putin isn’t just insane, but it also shows that Trump’s definition of leadership is pretty frightening.

First of all, Putin is presiding over a terrible economy, which was made even worse by U.S.-led sanctions imposed following his illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia’s overall meddling in Ukraine.

In a Reuters report from yesterday, one Russian employer said, “The Russian economy has hit bottom, but who would have thought the Russians would start digging?”

VOA News also reported earlier this week that Putin’s economy “has plunged millions of people into poverty…”

It’s not just economic conditions that are dire in Russia; life also isn’t so good for those who support a free press.

Since Putin came to power, 25 journalists have been killed. The majority of those killings were carried out by military or government officials, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

If this is the type of strength and leadership that Donald Trump wants to emulate as the President of the United States, then we’re all in trouble.

Meanwhile, in President Obama’s America, the economy has rebounded from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. More than 15 million jobs have been created over the last 78 months – the longest streak of private sector job growth in history. The uninsured rate is at record lows, the stock market is soaring, and the unauthorized immigrant population has actually fallen.

In a recent analysis conducted by Gallup, the American people report that their lives have gotten better during Obama’s two terms as president. Obama’s rising approval ratings only confirm that reality.

All of this despite Trump’s repeated attempts to paint the country under Obama as a hellscape overrun by “illegals.”

For score-keeping purposes: Putin isolated his country from the rest of the world, drove his economy into the ground, and ordered the killing of journalists. Obama halted a second Great Depression, laid the groundwork for sustained economic growth, provided health insurance to millions, and improved – yes, improved – America’s reputation abroad.

The contest of which of these two men is a better leader isn’t even close. In fact, Putin would likely trade his record for Obama’s in a heartbeat.

Ultimately, all of this says more about the Republican nominee than it does about either Putin or Obama. If Putin’s is the leadership that Donald Trump admires then he should be nowhere near the White House.

Republicans’ Congress Lull Could Impede A Clinton Presidency

Republicans’ Congress Lull Could Impede A Clinton Presidency

REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

The National Memo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in Congress are planning a light legislative agenda as they return from their long summer break on Tuesday, a strategy some say is designed in part to bog down Hillary Clinton if she becomes president.

It is not uncommon for the Congress to take it slow in an election year and legislative delays could work in Republicans’ favor if their nominee Donald Trump takes the White House in November.

But the strategy will also pay dividends if it is Clinton who takes office on Jan. 20. She will be forced to deal with old baggage rather than focus on her agenda of infrastructure investments and immigration and Wall Street reforms.

“If Hillary wins, we force her to waste time, resources, momentum, early good will and political capital – all on cleanup duty,” said a senior aide to one Republican senator.

If all goes as expected this autumn, a U.S. Supreme Court seat, vacant since Feb. 13, will remain unfilled until sometime next year. A sweeping Pacific free-trade deal negotiated by President Barack Obama will be on hold, if not doomed.

And if many conservative Republicans get their way, government agencies will run on stop-gap funding from Oct. 1 until sometime in February or March. That means that the next president would have to negotiate a longer-term deal or face the prospect of government shutdowns in the early days of a new administration.

Senior congressional aides have told Reuters their agenda for the coming months include bills to keep the government funded, combat the spreading Zika virus and renewing laws guarding the nation’s water resources.

Other items would help the majority Republicans score political points with key constituencies before the November elections, even though they have no chance of becoming law.

These include scolding the Obama administration for a $400 million payment to Iran in January after Tehran released American prisoners, anti-abortion measures and, once again, proposals to repeal Obama’s landmark healthcare law.

Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist and former aide to Republican leaders in Congress, acknowledged that public opinion polling is trending in Clinton’s direction.

If Clinton wins, Bonjean added, “The whole mindset (among Republican leaders in Congress) would shift to taking care of the most important business to help Republicans and unloading the more difficult, tense issues for a Clinton administration to deal with.”

Clinton has maintained a lead in most polls since Republican and Democratic conventions, but some surveys showed that lead narrowing. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sept. 2 showed Trump effectively pulling even with the Democratic nominee.

Yet one veteran Republican congressional aide said more and more Republicans in Congress brace for the White House to stay in Democratic hands for the next four years, even if their party manages to maintain control of Congress.

Trump’s trouble in appealing to important groups of voters, such as Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians, and self-inflicted wounds “have made it pretty clear he’s highly unlikely to get there,” he said.

Leaving the Supreme Court nomination and other high-profile disagreements for 2017 “does bog down” a new administration, “no question about it,” the aide said.

Some election years mean a slow autumn in Congress, but this is not always the case. In 2012 for example, lawmakers dramatically labored all the way through New Year’s Eve addressing a “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax and spending laws.

Not all of the delays in passing legislation are purely on Republican shoulders though.

While Trump has blasted free-trade deals, leading Democrats, including Clinton, also have criticized Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership pact that would create a free-trade zone ranging from Japan to Chile.

Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, downplayed the challenges Clinton might face early on. “She knows how to deal with Congress. She’s been there,” he said referring to Clinton’s years as a senator representing New York.

Besides, he added, if Trump loses, Republicans will be busy dealing with their own problems.

“They’ll have to think seriously about how they got themselves in the trouble that they’re in.”

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Julia Edwards and Tomasz Janowski)

Young Blacks Voice Skepticism on Hillary Clinton, Worrying Democrats

Brittany Packnett, 31, a St. Louis-based activist, said young black voters wanted more than “a candidate who is better than the alternative.” Credit: Whitney Curtis for The New York Times



WASHINGTON — When a handful of liberal advocacy organizations convened a series of focus groups with young black voters last month, the assessments of Donald J. Trump were predictably unsparing.

But when the participants were asked about Hillary Clinton, their appraisals were just as blunt and nearly as biting.

“What am I supposed to do if I don’t like him and I don’t trust her?” a millennial black woman in Ohio asked. “Choose between being stabbed and being shot? No way!”

“She was part of the whole problem that started sending blacks to jail,” a young black man, also from Ohio, observed about Mrs. Clinton.

“He’s a racist, and she is a liar, so really what’s the difference in choosing both or choosing neither?” another young black woman from Ohio said.

Young African-Americans, like all voters their age, are typically far harder to drive to the polls than middle-aged and older Americans. Yet with just over two months until Election Day, many Democrats are expressing alarm at the lack of enthusiasm, and in some cases outright resistance, some black millennials feel toward Mrs. Clinton.

Their skepticism is rooted in a deep discomfort with the political establishment that they believe the 68-year-old former first lady and secretary of state represents. They share a lingering mistrust of Mrs. Clintonand her husband over criminal justice issues. They are demanding more from politicians as part of a new, confrontational wave of black activism that has arisen in response to police killings of unarmed African-Americans.

“We’re in the midst of a movement with a real sense of urgency,” explained Brittany Packnett, 31, a St. Louis-based leader in the push for police accountability. Mrs. Clinton is not yet connecting, she said, “because the conversation that younger black voters are having is no longer one about settling on a candidate who is better than the alternative.”

The question of just how many young African-Americans will show up to vote carries profound implications for this election. Mrs. Clinton is sure to dominate Mr. Trump among black voters, but her overwhelming margin could ultimately matter less than the total number of blacks who show up to vote.

To replicate President Obama’s success in crucial states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, she cannot afford to let the percentage of the electorate that is black slip far below what it was in 2012. And while a modest drop-off of black votes may not imperil Mrs. Clinton’s prospects, given Mr. Trump’s unpopularity among upscale white voters, it could undermine Democrats’ effort to capture control of the Senate and win other down-ballot elections.

Mrs. Clinton’s difficulties with young African-Americans were laid bare in four focus groups conducted in Cleveland and Jacksonville, Fla., for a handful of progressive organizations spending millions on the election: the service employees union, a joint “super PAC” between organized labor and the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, and a progressive group called Project New America. The results were outlined in a 25-page presentationby Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, and shared with The New York Times by another party strategist who wanted to draw attention to Mrs. Clinton’s difficulties in hopes that the campaign would move more aggressively to address the matter.

Word of the report has spread in the constellation of liberal operatives and advocacy groups in recent weeks, concerning officials who saw diminished black turnout hurt Democratic candidates in the last two midterm elections.

Adding to the worries is a separate poll of African-Americans that Mr. Belcher conducted earlier in the summer indicating that Mrs. Clinton is lagging well behind Mr. Obama’s performance among young blacks in a handful of crucial states.

In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, 70 percent of African-Americans under 35 said they were backing Mrs. Clinton, 8 percent indicated support for Mr. Trump and 18 percent said they were backing another candidate or did not know whom they would support. In 2012, Mr. Obama won 92 percent of black voters under 45 nationally, according to exit polling.


Fox News’ Presidential Debate Moderator Says He’ll Let Candidates Lie

Trump shakes hands with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate the third presidential debate. | Screen Cap – Fox News Channel


For the first time, Fox News has been selected to moderate a presidential debate. The Presidential Debate Commission selected Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, to moderate the third presidential debate, scheduled for October 19 in Las Vegas.

Wallace appeared on Fox News’ Media Buzz to discuss what his selection meant to him personally and “what it means to Fox News.”

The host of the program, Howard Kurtz, asked Wallace, “What do you do if they make assertions that you know to be untrue?”

“That’s not my job,” Wallace replied, without skipping a beat. “It’s not my job to be a truth squad.”


A moderator who lets the candidates lie with impunity could be an advantage for Donald Trump, based on his Politifact scorecard. (Here is Hillary Clinton’sscorecard, for comparison.)

Trump rose to political prominence making false claims about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has recently been consulting with one of the nation’s most notorious conspiracy theorists.

Wallace is has close personal and professional ties to Roger Ailes, who was his boss until a few weeks ago and is now reportedly helping Trump prepare for the debate.

When Ailes was forced out of his position due to a string of credible sexual harassment allegations, Wallace showered him with praise.

Wallace said that he was “very proud to be a representative of Fox” in his role as debate moderator. He agreed with Kurtz that his selection dispelled the notion that Fox was a “right-wing network” that “favors Republicans.”

According to Wallace, his selection means the debate commission looked at Fox News’ body of work and decided it really was “fair and balanced.”

Judd Legum

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