Thursday, August 25, 2016

Smoke and fire in the 2016 presidential race. Hillary's mostly smoke; Trump's smoke has some fire


The stench of smoke has settled over this race to the White House.  Whether it means there is fire that is causing it is a matter of perception, the public’s definition of fire,  and finding evidence of a connection that indeed influences action that changes policy.



The low approval ratings reflected in polls of both major candidates are evidence that voters are not deaf and blind.  Even polls show that what is motivating voters to support one or the other is revulsion

 and dislike of  the opposing party candidate.  Clouds of smoke that hang over the race is as good as fire fueling voter preferences.  Recent news and investigative reporting have only added to the stink  of the smoke. Perception is more important than reality as a factor that influences public opinion. Smoke counts. Less important in the public’s eye is whether there is fire there.



 Thanks to  Colorado pollster and astute political observer Floyd Ciruli who recently concluded that Colorado is no longer in the toss up category as it is turning ever darker shades of bue in the electoral college map.  He drew heavily on a recent Quinnipiac  poll that partisan dislike of the opposition candidate is what is motivating voter preferences, not the positive love a candidate. The search for viable alternatives as a way out is anemic. So far the Libertarian Party has not polled higher than around 8% on the average and the Green Party is far behind as a third party choice.



 While a strong case can be made that taken all together, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and the appearance of pay to play in the Clinton relationship to their family foundation makes it appear that Clinton is greedy and self promoting , truth  stretching, defensive  tail covering. However none  of those  issues have shown that policy resulted that rise to  the fire of illegal activity or influenced policy.. She appeared after innumerable Congressional hearings to be at arms length  with policies that resulted in the death of an ambassador in Benghazi.  The FBI investigation could not prove that she intentionally sent emails that had classified information. So far, even the Associated Press in their excellent reporting could not find that there was evidence national policy  changes resulted from giving access to non governmental connected foreign and domestic Foundation donors.. Nonetheless, the smell lingers.  The only way out of the stink is to close down the Foundation now and turn over its resources and administration of humanitarian aid to the Bill  Gates Foundation that has the capacity and similar philosophy to carry on.  It is not a matter of admitting wrong doing to shutter the Foundation;  it the most effective way  to remove the perception of wrong doing.



However, the New York Times digging around found that Donald Trump’s pronouncement  on foreign affairs issues show a connection to his business dealings.  He owes the Bank of China and Goldman Sachs in his finance dealings and his goals and business dealings with Russia are no secret now.  Trump’s  anti Southeast (TPP) trade agreement) positions may be a problem, too.  
Opposing the TPP may be a lure  for the Midwest belt  voters lying in rust with job killing globalization, but the TPP was also promoted to strengthen allies in Southeast Asia against Chines expansionism in the region.  His bromance of mutual flattery and echoing Russia’s President Putin’s  declaring NATO was obsolete, Russia did not grab eastern Ukraine  or that his reliance on debts to Wall street is indeed has a  suspicious connection to this business dealings. In these cases, there is fire of policy positions within the fog of smoke.













Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Trump in debt to China and Goldman Sachs; close financial ties to Russia

Donald Trump's attack against Hillary Clinton for being associated with a foundation that takes foreign money or is too close to Wall Street ignores an old warning: Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  Revealed by investigative reporters in the New York Times, he owes Goldman Sachs and China's goverment owned bank millions   His answer: well that is only a fraction of the value of the property he borrowed or benefitted from both China and the wall street titan. We will never know since he is not releasing his tax returns.


We will have to take his word for it, but that connection went underreported in campaign finance disclosures.

Documented, too, are Trump's financial ties to Russia. http://time.com/4433880/donald-trump-ties-to-russia/ For years he has tried to establish a business presence there, and he has borrowed money from oligarchs.

 A most recent ad from the Trump campaign insinusates that the Clintons made money from their charitable foundation, which as James Carville on MSNBC's Joe today noted they did not take a penny from the foundation but gave it a million dollars last year.  True: The Clintons made their money mostly by speaking fees and it is true some of those fees came from Wall Street.

Does this buy access? Is it pay to play? The Associated Press  did show non governmental related contributors did get  access to Clinton. 50% of all non governmental individuals who get access to her were contributors to the Foundation. So far there is no evidence that the access during Clinton's time at the State Department changed policy. AP did not find that link. That would be a bombshell negative if that link could be proved.

In Donald Trump's case, his foreign policy echoes much of what Putin has proposed, especially regarding declaring NATO obsolete, and showing sympathy toward Russia's takeover of the Crimea.  Their  "bromance" has received much comment.  Recently Paul Manafort, one of his main advisors, resigned from the Trump campaign because of connections with Russia and the deposed president of the Ukraine, now a refugee in Russia.   Some charge Manafort of being an agent of a foreign government without disclosing that as required.

In any case, there is a smell  attached  to both candidates, which is reflected in the unfavorability polls.

While Trump did not hold a critical government position, as did Clinton, and pay to play is a charge that can only be levied at her, his surrogates are demanding that the Foundation be closed down now.  It seems fair that if elected Trump should close down his business deals and refuse to go into debt with China or Goldman Sachs...or even do it now.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/report-donald-trump-companies-at-least-650-million-in-debt/
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CAMPAIGN_2016_CLINTON_FOUNDATION?SITE=AP
http://time.com/4433880/donald-trump-ties-to-russia/
Related blog postings concerning Trump's Russian ties and the result of Brexit. http://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2016_06_01_archive.html
Related blog postings on Clinton Foundation: mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2015_04_01_archive.html

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Trump's newest pivot. Too little too late?

In the news last week  Donald Trump  appeared he is preparing himself for defeat but  in a last ditch effort ,he took on new campaign staff and made an interesting "pivot".   The question now is if his "pivot" is too little too late and his past flame throwing oratory will still come back to haunt him.


With plunging polls, he is beginning to see the writing on the wall so the leopard is changing his spots. He tried a pivot  earlier by sticking to teleprompter remarks, but when away from that discipline at the podium,  he had doubled down on  insulting key demographic groups. Now he is trying  to make amends by charging Democrats  for failing to lift African Americans up.  He failed to detail how he would help improve their economic standing and a failed to acknowledge their grievances about police brutality, too. He signaled a shift from insulting Hispanics to perhaps softening his immigration policies. Given his past bigoted, racial dog whistle comments and hate filled “build the wall” slogan, his sincerity will be a hard sell. Especially hard sell on his credibility is that the has taken on a campaign manager with close ties to the Alt Right, a movement which has white supremacist ties.


 This past week, Trump  admitted he had made some verbal mistakes and hurt some people.  On the other hand, he applied that admission to individuals only, ignoring he had turned off large blocks of  minorities, women, and the college educated.   The voters may already have come to the conclusion that the real Trump is a bigot who exploits divisiveness to promote himself. Also in question is to what extent his newly appointed advisors will reign him in since those very same  messaging advisors from  Breitbart specialize in conspiracy theories and inflammatory postings.


Before the pivot, he had attacked the press as  biased against him, accounting for sinking polls.   There are still other media outlets that tilt toward Trump that can warm the hearts of his supporters. That is the value of freedom of the press.  Trump’s message is still getting out because his inflammatory , insulting oratory is itself driving much of the coverage. Instead of killing the messengers, he needs to temper his message.


If Trump wants voters  to focus attention instead of  on himself   but on Hillary Clinton's weaknesses with her relationship with the Clinton Foundation, that  approach may have lost its value, only fortifying old news that she is a wheeler dealer that has already  become an acknowledged  perception.  Clinton's already low  personal approval ratings but winning  national  vote polls indicate voters  still prefer her to Trump,  warts and all. Trump's relying on the Foundation connection is like standing on shifting sands. The politically nimble Clinton campaign has already taken steps to assure the public that the Foundation will  not accept foreign donations and that Bill Clinton will resign from the board if she is elected. It may not be enough and she may have to heed the calls to shut down the Foundation
now. That option is still available.


The other excuse  for a potential loss we have heard  from Trump is that there will be voter fraud. He cannot accept  polls in Pennsylvania show he is losing , then fraud is the reason.  Trump must prove voter fraud  is widespread now and post election to make this excuse stick..  That is  a challenge. As Politifact, independent fact checker found true, was that " Roughly 300 people per year are struck by lightning in the United States. But cases of voter fraud -- someone impersonating another voter -- are documented even less often."

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/us/politics/if-hillary-clinton-wins-foundation-will-stop-accepting-foreign-donations.html?_r=0

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2016/apr/07/mark-pocan/which-happens-more-people-struck-lightning-or-people

https://www.yahoo.com/news/alt-beginners-guide-000000002.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/transcript-hillary-clinton-alt-right-reno-227419





Trump's newest pivot. Too little too late?

In the news last week  Donald Trump  appeared he is preparing himself for defeat but  in a last ditch effort ,he took on new campaign staff and made an interesting "pivot".   The question now is if his "pivot" is too little too late and his past flame throwing oratory will still come back to haunt him.


With plunging polls, he is beginning to see the writing on the wall so the leopard is changing his spots. He tried a pivot  earlier by sticking to teleprompter remarks, but when away from that discipline at the podium,  he had doubled down on  insulting key demographic groups. Now he is trying  to make amends by charging Democrats  for failing to lift African Americans up.  He failed to detail how he would help improve their economic standing and a failed to acknowledge their grievances about police brutality, too. He signaled a shift from insulting Hispanics to perhaps softening his immigration policies. Given his past bigoted, racial dog whistle comments and hate filled “build the wall” slogan, his sincerity will be a hard sell.


 This past week, Trump  admitted he had made some verbal mistakes and hurt some people.  On the other hand, he applied that admission to individuals only, ignoring he had turned off large blocks of  minorities, women, and the college educated.   The voters may already have come to the conclusion that the real Trump is a bigot who exploits divisiveness to promote himself. Also in question is to what extent his newly appointed advisors will reign him in since those very same  messaging advisors from  Breitbart specialize in conspiracy theories and inflammatory postings.


Before the pivot, he had attacked the press as  biased against him, accounting for sinking polls.   There are still other media outlets that tilt toward Trump that can warm the hearts of his supporters. That is the value of freedom of the press.  Trump’s message is still getting out because his inflammatory , insulting oratory is itself driving much of the coverage. Instead of killing the messengers, he needs to temper his message.


If Trump wants voters  to focus attention instead of  on himself   but on Hillary Clinton's weaknesses with her relationship with the Clinton Foundation, that  approach may have lost its value, only fortifying old news that she is a wheeler dealer that has already  become an acknowledged  perception.  Clinton's already low  personal approval ratings but winning  national  vote polls indicate voters  still prefer her to Trump,  warts and all. Trump's relying on the Foundation connection is like standing on shifting sands. The politically nimble Clinton campaign has already taken steps to assure the public that the Foundation will  not accept foreign donations and that Bill Clinton will resign from the board if she is elected.


The other excuse  for a potential loss we have heard  from Trump is that there will be voter fraud. He cannot accept  polls in Pennsylvania show he is losing , then fraud is the reason, rationalizes. Trump must prove voter fraud  is widespread now and post election to make this excuse stick..  That is  a challenge. As Politifact, independent fact checker found true, was that " Roughly 300 people per year are struck by lightning in the United States. But cases of voter fraud -- someone impersonating another voter -- are documented even less often."

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/us/politics/if-hillary-clinton-wins-foundation-will-stop-accepting-foreign-donations.html?_r=0

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2016/apr/07/mark-pocan/which-happens-more-people-struck-lightning-or-peop/