Clinton rules out 2020 run for presidency a win for Putin?

Hillary Clinton has ruled out another run for the US presidency in 2020. This may be seen as a win for Vladimir Putin, with it being pointed out “how much Vladimir Putin hates Hillary Clinton” – the misogynist versus the sort of feminist.

Could Russia target Ardern and New Zealand democracy? Have they already done this?

CNN:  Hillary Clinton rules out 2020 run, but says ‘I’m not going anywhere’

Hillary Clinton said Monday that she is not running for president in 2020 but will continue to speak out about politics, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m not running, but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee told CNN affiliate News 12 Westchester.

“I want to be sure that people understand I’m going to keep speaking out. I’m not going anywhere,” Clinton said.

When asked if she would consider running for governor, mayor or any elected office again, Clinton told News 12, “I don’t think so,” adding that she loves living in New York and is grateful for the time she spent as senator of the state.

“What’s at stake in our country, the kinds of things that are happening right now are deeply troubling to me.” She said the country has become “not just polarized, we’ve gotten into really opposing camps unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my adult life.”

Clinton said that “we’ve made a lot of progress” but “we still have a long way to go on women’s rights, on gay rights, on making sure that every person has the same chance to have their dignity and their identity respected.”

This may be why Russia got so involved in the 2016 US election. Whether Trump’s campaign ‘colluded’ with Russia, or whether Russia used Trump to dump on Clinton, are still unanswered questions. The Robert Mueller report may or may not provide answers.

More from Erynn Brook:

It’s basically impossible to say HRC’s name without being bombarded with memes and trolls and propaganda. And that’s all intentional. I’m not talking about her policies. I’m talking about the interpersonal dynamic between Putin and HRC playing out on a world stage.

Oh the dog incident with Merkel isn’t just “related”, it’s more evidence. It’s in the intelligence briefings that’s she’s afraid of dogs. He gave Merkel a stuffed dog the year before. It’s straight up psychological warfare.

Foreign Policy: Putin uses dog to intimidate Merkel

Remember that Hillary Clinton was First Lady when Putin became Prime Minister and then President. Remember that Hillary is widely cited as being the driving force behind her husband’s political career.

Remember that she had an objectively successful political career, AFTER her husband’s impeachment. I don’t mean a while after, I mean like while it’s happening she’s running for state senator in NY. Which she won. That should have been impossible.

Love her or hate her, that’s not what I’m talking about.

Hillary Clinton is demonstrably, a very, very good politician. It’s likely she decided she wanted to be president when she was a kid and that influenced a large majority of her life choices.

So Clinton becomes Secretary of State when Putin is Prime Minister for the second time, and she is a force to be reckoned with. AND she’s the wife of his former American counterpart. She’s the woman he used to tell his wife to entertain. She’s fucking decor to him.

I am begging you to get this: refusal to see the role misogyny played in all of this, in the state of our world right now, is making things worse.

Don’t take my word for it, do your own research. Do some real, substantial research.

And ask yourself: if the richest, most powerful, most dangerous misogynist in the world, thought that the woman who had been coming for him for decades, who saw through all his shit and wasn’t afraid of him, if she was about to get the one job she could get to take him down.

If he saw that coming towards him, if this dangerous man who built a career on crushing political dissidents iduring Cold War, if this “world class misogynist” felt threatened by a WOMAN…

What would he do? What could he do?

Here, I’ll even give you a few places to get started. By all means, if you can show me I’m wrong while still addressing all the Russia crap, without resorting to more misogyny, and with actual, demonstrable, critical analysis, I’d love to hear it.

Brook links to another thread:

And it’s a wider problem.

What are the implications for New Zealand? Jacinda Ardern has positioned herself in stark contrast to both Trump and Putin. New Zealand may not matter much to Russia, but it’s possible Putin could start taking potshots at Ardern. And at our democracy.

Has it already happened? Why did Cameron Slater and Whale Oil actively promote Winston Peters in our 2017 election?

A year ago Peters was in the news here for promoting a trade deal with Russia, and for fudging around while other Western countries condemned Russia for their involvement in the Salisbury nerve agent attacks.

Noted noted: What’s with Winston’s crush on Russia?

With Winston Peters, it’s the Secret Samovar. He has this thing about Russia, and no one can explain why. There was the suggestion, when he began harping on about restoring full trade relations with Russia some years ago, that his close ties with the fishing industry had made him hyper-sensitive to lost trade opportunities in seafood.

This week, Peters has repeated his scepticism that Russia shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in 2014 and expanded that refusenik-ism to cover the growing suspicion that Russia just poisoned a spy and his daughter in Britain.

He also averred that our getting a free-trade deal with Russia would be just as good, and should be just as big a priority, as scoring one with the European Union.

It may be that Peters admires Putin’s strongman approach in the way he shares some heartland electoral territory with Trump over immigration and protectionism. Among his startling comments as Foreign Minister this week was one expressing sympathy with the US’s proposed new tariffs on aluminium and steel – which had immediately to be contradicted by Trade Minister David Parker.

Anyway, Peters’ preoccupation with Putin’s Russia goes back years; it’s not something he’s just manufactured as a handy coalition prying bar. And dying in a ditch over Russia is hardly the gesture lost NZ First voters – or any other voters, for that matter – would rally around.

It may be a stretch to suggest a Russian-Peters-Slater conspiracy.

It could simply be that to different degrees Peters shares a similar misogynist view with Putin and Trump, seeing themselves as superior to female leaders, and attracted to each other in a ‘strongmen unite’ sort of empathy.

 

Biden bashes Clinton

Joe Biden has said what many people thought, especially voters in some pivotal US states, Hillary Clinton wasn’t a great candidate. She was so poor she lost to Donald Trump, someone with no political experience and lacking support even within his own Republican Party.

Phily.Com: Joe Biden slams Hillary Clinton: ‘I never thought she was a great candidate’

Joe Biden has a reputation for saying what’s on his mind, and on Thursday night, he reportedly didn’t hold back at all about former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate,” Biden reportedly told an audience of hedge fund managers at the annual SALT conference in Las Vegas.

“No man or woman should announce for the presidency unless they genuinely believe that for the that moment in the nation’s history they are the most qualified person to deal with the issues facing the country,” Biden continued, according to TheStreet’s Ronald Orol.

Despite his criticism of candidate Clinton, Biden did add that he thought Hillary would have been “a really good president.”

She may have made an ok ‘same old’ establishment sort of president, but she is unlikely to have shaken up fundamental problems in the US political system. She was one of the established ruling class.

And we will never know how she would have managed the job.

Biden considered standing against Clinton for nomination last year but decided against it. His son had died then previous year. he would have been very establishment too.

Biden has repeatedly said his emphasis right now is on his family being “put back together,” but on Thursday left the door open about a possible run in 2020.

“If I get those things done, and I’m healthy and viable, and it looks like I’m the best man to do it, I may very well do it,” Biden said. “But my family comes first.”

“Could I? Yes,” Biden continued. “Would I? Probably not.”

Biden would be nearly 78 years old in 2020. At age 70, President Donald Trump is the oldest president to ever assume office.

Probably not. If he won he would be nearly 82 by the end of his first term, so a second term would be a stretch on age and health alone.

In any case the Democrats need to be doing something very different if they want to rebuild after their embarrassingly poor results last year. They lost the presidency, and failed to gain a majority in either the senate or Congress.

To revitalise, the Democrats need someone much different to either Clinton or Biden to lead them.

A problem with US politics is that parties don’t decide who might lead them until election year, so the next three years may be manoeuvring of those wanting to set up their preferred presidential candidate more than addressing the real and fundamental problems in the party and the country.

 

Trump v. US ‘intelligence’ agencies

I’m sure it’s been said before that US Intelligence is an oxymoron. They have somewhere around 20 intelligence agencies for a start (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces), with conflicting jurisdictions, and with rivalries and a lack of systems that prevents comprehensive consolidation of intelligence.

US intelligence agencies have long clashed with their democracy, notably in the Nixon era. Recently Director James Comey inserted the FBI into the presidential election, quite possibly swinging the result.

There have been controversial claims by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and that Donald trump’s campaign team had ongoing contact with Russian interests.

And now that Trump is president things seem to be getting worse, with ongoing leaks from intelligence agencies that conflict with and and undermine the presidency.

There are some claims that intelligence agencies won’t tell Trump things for fear of their methods being passed on to Russia.

Salon covers much of this in Trump vs. the Deep State: This death match of American political power will forever change history -President Trump escalates his battle with the U.S security apparatus.

The firing of Gen. Michael Flynn has popularized the concept of the “Deep State” across the political spectrum.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak attacks the disloyal “Deep State #Resistance” to President Trump, while conservative pundit Bill Kristol defends it.

“Obviously [I] strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Glenn Greenwald is more even-handed: “Trump presidency is dangerous,” the Intercept columnist tweeted Wednesday. “CIA/Deep State abuse of spy powers to subvert elected Govt is dangerous.”

And the conflict is deepening. The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump wants to bring in Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg “to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies.”

The idea is reportedly provoking “fierce resistance” from intelligence officials who fear it “could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”

They describe ‘Deep State’:

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress. While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces.

The leaders of these agencies are generally disturbed by Trump’s cavalier treatment of their intelligence findings and particularly worried about contacts between Trump’s entourage and Russian intelligence officials.

There are known facts plus many claims and accusations that are at least partially unsubstantiated.

As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted, the undisputed facts are accumulating:

  • Multiple U.S. intelligence services believe that Russian operatives, at Putin’s directions, tried to help Trump get elected. The FBI is investigating contacts between Russian officials and at least three people connected to Trump’s presidential campaign: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
  • There were “continuous” contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials. At least some of the claims made in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official have been confirmed, though none of the more salacious details.
  • Trump has had many financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, as shown in an investigation by the American Interest.

As a result, the intelligence agencies are withholding sources and methods from the president out of fear they will leak to foreign powers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials are also leaking the results of the ongoing investigation into Trump to reporters at The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The leaking of classified information, which Trump welcomed during the 2016 campaign, is indeed a felonious violation of the law, although it has been standard procedure for Washington power players since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947.

It is a serious threat to US democracy, and a serious threat to Trump’s presidency:

Vanity Fair calls the crisis of Trump’s presidency Watergate 2.0. The historical analogy is apt because the Watergate scandal that engulfed President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s was also a struggle between the White House and the intelligence agencies. But today’s crisis is more accurately described as Trump vs. the Deep State.

It is the death match of American political power and it will determine the fate of Trump’s troubled presidency.

It could be said that Trump is a serious threat to his presidency and to the US, but his clash with ‘Deep State’ is particularly ugly, and is likely to make more of a mess of US democracy.

More on ‘Deep State’:

US polls closing up quickly

The US presidential polls appear to be closing up quickly in the wake of the FBI announcement last Friday that emails related to their Clinton inquiries would be investigated.

The RealClear Politics poll average is now just +2.2 in Clinton’s favour, and FiveThirtyEight’s ‘Who will win the presidency’ polls-plus forecast is now Clinton 71.7% to Trump 28.3%.

What these don’t show is how quickly new polls have shifted as they lag through their averaging over time.

The latest ABC Washington Post Trump v Clinton poll is Clinton 48, Trump 47 but their four way poll with all candidates is Trump 46, Clinton 45, the first time Trump has led Clinton since May.

The FiveThirtyEight trend chart looks ominous for Clinton.

538trend1november2016

This is all complicated by early voting that has been under way for weeks in some states, and also the complex US electoral college system of electing the president.

The uproar over Clinton’s emails and renewed accusations of Trump’s alleged links to Russian interests were prominent in the news. This is far from a ‘normal’ election, and the swings could do anything in the final week.

 

Voting for Trump – grimly

Donald Trump got the Republican nomination for the presidency with a lot of support. He still has quite a bit of support, especially from a devout base.

Why would people vote for Trump now? ‘Clinton’ is one simple and strong answer. Hillary Clinton (and her husband Bill) are very unliked by many people.

David Gelernter, a professor of computer science, gives his opinion in the Wall Street Journal in Trump and the Emasculated Voter.

There’s only one way to protect the nation from Hillary Clinton, and that is to vote for Donald Trump.

Some conservatives have watched their evaluations of Donald Trump’s character drop so low in recent days that on this vital question they no longer see a choice between Donald Trump andHillary Clinton. Accordingly, they are forced back onto politics and policy; and naturally Mr. Trump wins in a walk.

If conservatives who argue that Mr. Trump is worse than Mrs. Clinton had a case, it would be a relief to vote for Mrs. Clinton or for no one. But they don’t, and one is therefore forced for the good of the nation to vote for Mr. Trump.

It’s sad but true that the election for the president of the United States is dominated by ‘least worst’, or less bad.

In his Mr. Nauseating video of last weekend, Mr. Trump showed us that he had all the class and cool of a misbegotten 12-year-old boy. Yet the video taught us nothing; no one had ever mistaken him for anything but an infantile vulgarian. This week’s allegations of actual abuse are different. If these stories are true (and I don’t know why they shouldn’t be), there is nothing to be said for Mr. Trump.

Unfortunately, there is nothing to be said for Mrs. Clinton either. If we don’t take both facts into account, we are not morally serious.

Despite how infantile and vulgar Trump is he is seen by many as less bad than Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton has nothing on Mr. Trump when it comes to character. She lies (“Wipe? Like with a cloth?”—cute and charming Mrs. C.) the way basketball stars shoot baskets—constantly, nonstop, because it’s the one thing she is best at and (naturally) it gives her pleasure to hear herself lie—swish!—right onto the evening news.

Trump would appear to lie a lot too. If not more. But his supporters don’t see that or don’t care about that because Clinton.

I’ll vote for Mr. Trump—grimly. But there is no alternative, no shadow of a responsible alternative.

Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a message from the voters. He is the empty gin bottle they have chosen to toss through the window.

The message begins with the fact that voters hear what the leaders and pundits don’t: the profound contempt for America and Americans that Mrs. Clinton and President Obama share and their frightening lack of emotional connection to this nation and its people.

A common thing in politics, substituting ‘what I hear’ with ‘the fact that voters hear ‘.

Regardless, many people ‘hear’ or perceive serious flaws with Clinton, and ignore or excuse serious flaws with Trump, so will still hold their noses and vote for him.

However polls suggest voters are turning off Trump.

Perhaps a deciding factor in this election will be turn out, and how many people give up on deciding which candidate stinks the least and don’t vote.

Trump blames everyone else for his self destruction

Donald Trump defied many predictions when he won the Republican nomination for the US presidency.

He is now living up to many predictions that he would self destruct. Defeat looks increasingly likely, unless something game changing occurs.

The way Trump is playing the game it will have to come from another team, like WikiLeaks, but so far Trump has failed to take advantage of the drip feed of hacked emails, instead choosing to keep attention on his flailing, especially on the accusations against him of sexual misconduct.

Trump is now blaming everyone else in what looks like excuses in advance of as loss.

He has blamed his own team, the Republican Part, and especially it’s Speaker Paul Ryan after Ryan said he would no longer campaign for Trump. The party appears to be fracturing.

Trump is blaming the Clintons and the media and owners of the media for conspiring against him.

He is blaming the growing number of women claiming to be victims of the sort brazen sexual assaults that he bragged about doing in the tape released just over a week ago.

And he says the election is rigged against him. He has even intimated that the Republican Party is a part of the conspiracy.

One thing that has been common in Trump’s campaign, a tactic that seems to be quite common, I’ve seen it used here, is a form of transference. He accuses others of doing what he is guilty of. The most frequent example of this is accusing others of lying.

He has just come up with another transference attack. In the first two debates he had a habit of sniffing loudly, and there were suggestions in social media it looked like someone with a cocaine habit.

Trump has now come out saying that he thinks Clinton is ‘pumping herself up’ for the third debate and they should take a drug test before the debate.

So it looks like the race to the bottom will continue. Fox News has just described Trump’s campaign as a scorched earth policy.

Fox has been one of Trump’s biggest promoters. This morning they have had a number of people on their election programme saying that Trump must turn his attention to policies and the differences between him and Clinton as president.

There is no sign of Trump changing tack like this. His success was through tapping into the ‘stuff the lot of them’ constituency, and now he seems to have one focus, ‘stuff the lot of them’. A lot of them are voters. He can’t keep lashing out at people and groups of people and expect to increase his support.

After the sexual assault bragging and allegations polls show women have turned away from Trump in big numbers, and they make up over half the voters.

The problem for Trump with the scorched earth strategy is that it is unlikely to turn the polls around. They have been trending against him since the campaign went off the rails, so driving the train further off the rails is unlikely to make a positive difference.

Talking of conspiracies, one that’s been floated is that Trump is deliberately trying to lose. I don’t think it’s that complicated.

It’s likely that Trump is simply stuffing things up.Self inflicted cock-up rather than conspiracy of others.

But going by past behaviour of blame transference it is unlikely Trump will blame himself.

 

What if Trump wins and Clinton is locked up?

“Lock her up” has been a common chant at Donald Trump rallies for some time, prompted and encouraged by Trump.

This was still happening, at a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday:

This follows Trump’s controversial comments during Sunday’s debate:

Trump: “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. People have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you have done. And it’s a disgrace.”

Clinton: You know, it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

Trump: “Because you would be in jail.”

From The Atlantic: Trump’s Promise to Jail Clinton Is a Threat to American Democracy

This is not how special prosecutors work. There are a number of legal mechanisms for the appointment of special counsel by the attorney general, all designed to allow for investigations of executive-branch officials free from the threat of political interference. Trump proposed the opposite: directing his attorney general to appoint a prosecutor to go after a political rival who he’s publicly said should “be in jail.”

This is not how the presidency works. When Richard Nixon tried to interfere in an ongoing investigation, Attorney General Elliott Richardson resigned. And even if Trump could find a more malleable attorney general, and discard precedent, he’d still lack the power to jail Clinton unilaterally. Presidents are not in charge of the law, but of its faithful execution.

The President should not and can not instruct the Attorney General on what to investigate. It would be particularly bad for the President to instruct the AG to investigate a political opponent.

This is also not how democracies work. Elected officials do not jail their foes. The Constitution specifically prohibits bills of attainder—legislation designed to punish individuals, thereby circumventing the judicial process—to bar despotic rulers from persecuting their opponents. The jailing of political opponents is a feature of repressive dictatorships, not vibrant democracies.

bananapresident

But it is fully in keeping with how Trump’s campaign has worked. He accepted the nomination in Cleveland in July. The defining chant of that convention was not, “Make America Great Again.” It was “Lock Her Up!”

And on Sunday, that’s exactly what Trump vowed to do.

So what if Trump becomes President? If he tried to instruct the Attorney General it would get a huge amount of attention, and condemnation. It would pit the President against the legal branch and whatever resulted it would cause major problems.

What if the Attorney general independently chose to investigate Clinton? That would raise many questions and accusations of underhand pressure.

What if Clinton was found guilty and imprisoned?

US politics and the US judiciary would be ridiculed world wide.

By the look of current polling all this seems unlikely, they farce he has helped make out of the campaign is catching up with him as he burns more and more bridges to a majority.

It may well do the opposite to what Trump is promoting, and give Clinton a get out of jail free card.

If she becomes President the Attorney General (and the Republicans) may be reluctant to allow a perception they are doing what Trump wants.

Clinton surge, voting under way

Hillary Clinton has surged in polls since last week’s debate, but it’s probably more a sign of Donald Trump tanking than Clinton suddenly being seen as wonderful.

And while election day is still a month away, November 8, absentee voting has already begun in one state at least.

Five Thirty Eight now rates Clinton a 75.5% chance of winning to Trump’s 24.5%.

538trend6oct2016

It’s not over for Trump, the trends have turned dramatically a few times, but it’s looking downhill for Trump since a poor debate and a worse week following that.

Also from FiveThirtyEight: North Carolina Is Becoming A Problem For Trump

Hillary Clinton continues to gain ground in our presidential forecast, as it becomes clearer that last week’s debate was a turning point in the race. In fact, the polls we added to our database on Tuesday may have been Donald Trump’s worst since the debate. They included surveys showing Clinton leading Trump by 9 percentage points and 10 points in Pennsylvania, by 6 points and 2 points in North Carolina, and by 3 points in Nevada.

One particular area of concern for Trump is North Carolina, where the polls we added on Tuesday were the fourth and fifth since the debate to show Clinton ahead there. They also had favorable trend lines for Clinton, withSurveyUSA showing her with a 2-point lead rather than a 4-point deficit in their early August poll, and Elon University showing her up by 6, instead of down by 1 point in their mid-September poll.

North Carolina is not a state where you want to be trailing in the polls in October, hoping for a late comeback. That’s because it typically has high rates of early and absentee voting. In 2012, for example, about 60 percent of ballots in North Carolina were cast before Election Day. Absentee voting is already underway there, while in-person early voting begins on Oct. 20.

So absentee voting has already begun in North Carolina, and over half of the votes there in 2012 were cast before election day.

And  Trump’s Doing Worse Than Romney Did Among White Voters

Donald Trump’s strategy in this campaign has been fairly clear from the beginning: Drive up Republican support among white voters in order to compensate for the GOP’s shrinking share among the growing nonwhite portion of the electorate. And Trump has succeeded in overperforming among a certain slice of white voters, those without a college degree. But overall, the strategy isn’t working. Trump has a smaller lead among white voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and Trump’s margin seems to be falling from where it was when the general election began.

Four years ago, Romney beat President Obama among white voters by 17 percentage points, according to pre-election polls. That was the largest winning margin among white voters for any losing presidential candidate since at least 1948. Of course, even if Trump did just as well as Romney did, it would help him less, given that the 2016 electorate will probably be more diverse that 2012’s. And to win — even if the electorate remained as white as it was four years ago — Trump would need a margin of 22 percentage points or more among white voters.

But Trump isn’t even doing as well as Romney. Trump is winning white voters by just 13 percentage points, according to an average of the last five live-interviewer national surveys. He doesn’t reach the magic 22 percentage point margin in a single one of these polls.

So WikiLeaks or other dramatic outside factors aside it looks like Clinton is in a strong and strengthening position, and Trump has to try and turn things around. Instead he seems to keep doubling down on being outrageous. Sometimes it looks as if he is trying to deliberately lose support.

Being an anti-candidate worked for Trump earlier in the marathon presidential contest, but it seems to be working against him now.

The vice-presidential debate between Mike Spence and Tim Kaine seems to have been ruled in favour of Trump’s running mate but whether that will make any difference is debatable.

Washington Examiner: Pence Deflects Kaine Attacks, Gives Republicans a Boost

Even allowing for spin, Republican and Democratic insiders gathered here at Longwood University drew vastly different takeaways from the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

Republicans said: Can you believe what a jerk Kaine was? He wouldn’t let Pence say three words before interrupting him. Surely the audience hated that.

Democrats said: Who cares whether anyone likes Tim Kaine? His job was to plant Donald Trump’s greatest hits in the public brain: Miss Universe. Tax returns. Mexican rapists. PTSD. And that’s what he did.

A few hundred miles away in Ohio, members of a focus group convened by the GOP strategist Frank Luntz did not like what they saw of Kaine. “Mike Pence is winning because Tim Kaine cannot debate like an adult without interruptions,” Luntz tweeted early in the debate. By the end, the 26-member group voted 22-to-4 that Pence won.

That looks decisive in favour of Pence, but this was a minor strategic skirmish in the presidential war of attrition.

Post debate poll bounce for Clinton

The FiveThirtyEight odds for president have swung back towards a bigger lead for Hillary Clinton. Their current forecast:

538presidential20160929

http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/

A the trend lines show that could just as easily turn around again. The US electorate seems to be volatile, I suspect with a large number of voters unhappy with all candidates.

Will the weight of media opinion take it’s toll on Trump in the final month of the campaign?

USA Today is the latest to come out against Trump.

USA TODAY’s Editorial Board: Trump is ‘unfit for the presidency’

The Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race. We’re doing it now.

In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race. Instead, we’ve expressed opinions about the major issues and haven’t presumed to tell our readers, who have a variety of priorities and values, which choice is best for them. Because every presidential race is different, we revisit our no-endorsement policy every four years. We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now.

This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.

From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.

Whether through indifference or ignorance, Trump has betrayed fundamental commitments made by all presidents since the end of World War II. These commitments include unwavering support for NATO allies, steadfast opposition to Russian aggression, and the absolute certainty that the United States will make good on its debts. He has expressed troubling admiration for authoritarian leaders and scant regard for constitutional protections.

They then list a number of problems they see with Trump:

  • He is erratic
    He simply spouts slogans and outcomes (he’d replace Obamacare with “something terrific”) without any credible explanations of how he’d achieve them.
  • He is ill-equipped to be commander in chief
    Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements typically range from uninformed to incoherent.
  • He traffics in prejudice
    From the very beginning, Trump has built his campaign on appeals to bigotry and xenophobia.
  • His business career is checkered
    Trump has built his candidacy on his achievements as a real estate developer and entrepreneur. It’s a shaky scaffold…
  • He isn’t leveling with the American people
    …alone among major party presidential candidates for the past four decades, he refuses to release his tax returns…
  • He speaks recklessly
    …It’s hard to imagine two more irresponsible statements from one presidential candidate.
  • He has coarsened the national dialogue
    Trump’s inability or unwillingness to ignore criticism raises the specter of a president who, like Richard Nixon, would create enemies’ lists and be consumed with getting even with his critics.
  • He’s a serial liar
    Trump is in a league of his own when it comes to the quality and quantity of his misstatements.

They also state reservations about Clinton:

Nor does this editorial represent unqualified support for Hillary Clinton, who has her own flaws (though hers are far less likely to threaten national security or lead to a constitutional crisis). The Editorial Board does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement.

Some of us look at her command of the issues, resilience and long record of public service — as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of State — and believe she’d serve the nation ably as its president.

Other board members have serious reservations about Clinton’s sense of entitlement, her lack of candor and her extreme carelessness in handling classified information.

Clinton is a significantly flawed candidate. Just far less so than Trump.

USA Today concludes:

Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.

That’s damning, but they encapsulate the concerns of many, not just in the US but around the world.

Gary Johnson for US president?

With a media obsession with Clinton versus Trump it’s easy to forget that there are two other candidates standing for US president – Libertarian leader Gary Johnson and Green leader Jill Stein.

With a virtual mainstream media blackout Johnson is polling at around 7-8% (Stein barely rates).

What the distorted media coverage keeps highlighting is the degree of dismay over Hillary Clinton and the degree of dread of having a President Trump.

This is in part reflected in ‘Direction of Country’ polls, which have been showing that about two thirds of voters think the US is on the wrong track. Recent polls from Real Clear Politics:

usdirectionofcountrypolls29sep16

It doesn’t show much confidence in the prospects of either a Clinton or a Trump presidency.

Shouldn’t the media, and US voters, give a bit more attention to a real alternative, especially Johnson? He offers a real alternative to the Clinton/establishment ticket, and surely he is a safer bet then Trump.

Johnson was the governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, and is the Libertarian Party nominee for president.

New York Times gives him a shot at selling himself:

Gary Johnson: Take a Deep Breath, Voters. There Is a Third Way.

The America I know wasn’t on the television screen on Monday night. My America is about the freedom to make choices, pursue your dreams and use your skills as entrepreneurs. It is about having more choices than just red versus blue.

Americans want to be able to choose a president who is capable of reason, of learning from failures, and of telling them the truth, even when it hurts. Most of all, they want to choose a president who will adhere to the Constitution and will make government live within its means.

I’m offering that choice. I wasn’t part of the presidential debate on Monday, but as Americans listened in dismay to the so-called major parties’ candidates, Google searches for “Gary Johnson” skyrocketed.

I’m the third candidate — the leader of the Libertarian Party. My name will be on every ballot alongside that of my running mate, Bill Weld, who like me was a twice-elected Republican governor of a strongly Democratic state.

Our kids are better educated than ever before. Our technology enables entrepreneurship and transparency. Our military is second to none, as it should be.

But our two-party political system is an entirely different story. Hyper-partisanship may be entertaining, but it’s a terrible way to try to run a country.

The US political system – along with the media that feeds it – does look terrible.

We’re the alternative — and we’re the only ticket that offers Americans a chance to find common ground.

Johnson outlines his and his party’s policies and a positive approach.

Less than six weeks before Election Day, independents and, particularly, young voters are increasingly turning to Bill Weld and me as reasonable, rational and experienced candidates. We are the party that can break the partisan gridlock which for too long has kept real solutions out of reach.

The Democrats and the Republicans are symbols of a broken political system. Clinton is a part of a stale establishment, Trump represents a crazy high risk alternative.

If I was a US voter I’d be seriously looking at an alternative, and I think that the Gary Johnson option deserves serious consideration.