Hillary Clinton, WikiLeaks, and the new Cold War


Hillary Clinton supports Syrian insurgents, many of whom are linked to known terror groups, over the Russian-backed Bashar al-Assad regime.

As leaked audio of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault became the biggest story of the 2016 election, WikiLeaks released another trove of Hillary Clinton documents. They include portions of transcripts from her mysterious speeches to big banks, as well as emails from campaign chair and longtime ally John Podesta. While much of the content is illuminating, little of it is outside the scope of the dirty politics the Clintons have long been known to play.

One email that received a great deal of attention came to Podesta from former National Endowment for the Arts chairman Bill Ivey. Ivey wrote, “We’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.” To some of Clinton’s most reactionary critics – including InfoWars host Alex Jones, who thinks Clinton is literally a demon – this is a smoking gun piece of evidence that the Clinton crime cabal is out to rule the world.

But in context, Ivey isn’t laying out any master plan of dumbing down the population on the Clintons’ behalf. In fact, he was lamenting the dumbing down of the population, holding the media and both political parties accountable for it. Only a sentence later he wrote, “This problem demands some serious, serious thinking.” Many of the leaks have, like this one, been made far more sensational than they actually are.

Even the bank speeches haven’t turned out to be that damning. Clinton is nearly as guarded speaking to high-dollar investors as she is to the American public. One controversial remark was her admission that she’s “kind of far removed” from middle-class struggles and concerns. The flack she caught for this frank and honest observation of her own life was totally undue. Another highlight is her statement on needing “both a public and a private position,” which also isn’t as bad as it sounds. In context, she’s talking about how to pitch policy proposals to different audiences.

Some of the emails are hilariously hypocritical. In one exchange, her team discusses a bill that would make all legislators’ emails public. Others complain of the corrupting influence big money has on government. There is a great deal of elitism, collusion between Clinton’s camp and the media, and paranoia about left-wing opposition from the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She’s awkward, cynical and dismissive of the left. But anyone expecting to hear super villain Clinton declare her intent to destroy the world will be disappointed.


Assange has been a persistent thorn in Hillary Clinton’s side. Now, with US pressure, his host country of Ecuador has cut off his internet access.

What comes closest are the emails related to foreign policy. Clinton admits that her proposed no-fly zone in Syria, which she continues to favor, would “kill a lot of Syrians.” She also acknowledges that Qatar and Saudi Arabia – both of which receive US funding and weapons, including while Clinton was Secretary of State – are known financiers of terrorist groups like ISIS. Again, though, this is not particularly new information. There’s little in Clinton’s emails that can’t be found in the standard neoconservative playbook. They’re just a gross look at how the book is written.

Maybe more troubling than the leaks themselves has been the reaction to them. To silence Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder responsible for publishing the leaks, the US pressured Ecuador to cut off his internet access at the Ecuadoran embassy where he has lived in asylum for years. Clinton has become a neo-McCarthyite, blaming the leaks on Russian hacking meant to tilt the election in Trump’s favor. US intelligence supports Clinton’s claims, but even if they are accurate it doesn’t change the veracity of the leaks. She is shooting a nuclear-equipped messenger.

Russia has featured more prominently in this election than perhaps any other since the Cold War ended. There are reports that Donald Trump has extensive business ties to Russian oligarchs. He has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, a petty tyrant cut from the same mold as Trump. Meanwhile, Clinton is fiercely critical of Russian involvement in Syria, as well as in the US election. And Russia is projecting its military and nuclear capacities throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East. A Russian legislator recently threatened that a Clinton presidency would lead to nuclear war.

All of this builds to a situation that is very much like a rekindling of the Cold War. Trump is certainly Russia’s biggest booster in American politics. The centerpiece of disagreement now is Syria, where Russia backs the dictatorial government of Bashar al-Assad while the US backs radicalized, dangerous insurgents. Clinton regularly casts Russia as a rogue state and insists on the ouster of Assad to a stubborn degree.

Like in the first Cold War, most of the hardship is going to fall on bystanders in the Middle East and Europe. Already the region’s strife has led to one of the greatest refugee crises in history. Millions of human beings have been killed or displaced in ongoing wars between state armies and insurgents, which are increasingly acting as proxy agents for either the US and its allies or Russia and its allies. None of the actors can really be considered “the good guys.”

Clinton will almost certainly win the election. Her opponent is an incompetent, self-promoting huckster of the cheapest variety who disqualifies himself in every speech. He is even more extreme than Clinton when he discusses plans to murder terrorists’ families and torture “even if it doesn’t work.” But Clinton’s long history of reckless foreign policy suggests Russian tensions will worsen under her administration. The most important job of her presidency will be preventing the Cold War from turning nuclear.

‘Trump Tapes’ are important, but should not be the biggest election story


Does this look like the face of a creepy sexual predator?

In newly unearthed audio from 2005, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president, brags about forcing himself on women, kissing them without permission, grabbing them “by the pussy,” and getting away with it because of his power and fame. Since then, several women have come forward with allegations that match Trump’s boasts perfectly. The scandal has fractured the Republican Party as never before and seems to have all but done in Trump’s chances of winning the presidency. Continue reading

At second debate, Trump is at his darkest and most disturbing


Trump frequently ventured away from his podium to invade his opponent’s personal space.

At the second presidential debate, Donald Trump avoided the complete disintegration of his campaign. But for Trump, the bar has always been low. All he had to do was not storm off stage, pull out his hair or hurl his feces and the next day’s media would admire his composure. That he remained alive in the race means the night must be called a victory for him, but the neo-fascist candidate has never been darker or more disturbing. Continue reading

America was not ready for a black president


President Obama convened his controversial beer summit in 2009, after the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.

During Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, pundits spent a great deal of time on the question, “Is America ready for a black president?” The question seemed both deeply racist – as though black people had to wait for white America to be ready for them – and insulting to all Americans’ intelligence. But after two terms of President Obama and the rise of Donald Trump, the answer in hindsight seems to have been a decisive “No.” Continue reading

Democrats have a lot to learn from Bernie Sanders


Bernie Sanders appears with Native American leaders to express his opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Hillary Clinton’s stock is falling. Even her prominent surrogates and media advocates are conceding that Donald Trump has a serious chance of becoming the next president. The two historically unpopular candidates are neck-and-neck in national polls and Clinton has fallen behind in crucial swing states like Florida and Ohio. Meanwhile her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, is surging, boasting an 87 percent approval rating among his electorate and enjoying a nationwide favorability of +18 to Clinton’s -14.

Any Democrat worried about the outcome of the 2016 election should be analyzing that discrepancy. All during the primary, the news media and Clinton’s surrogates pushed the narrative that she was the strongest general election candidate. Now is the time for establishment Democrats to take their cues from Sanders and his supporters. If she maintains her current course, Clinton probably cannot win this election. Continue reading

Trump and the far right: America’s real PC bullies

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters through a bullhorn during a campaign stop at the Canfield County Fair in Canfield

The last thing the world needs: Trump with a bullhorn. REUTERS/Mike Segar

If you haven’t been offended by Donald Trump yet, chances are you just haven’t listened to him enough. He’s insinuated that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists, that American Muslims protect terrorists in their neighborhoods, and that a female journalist who challenged him over sexist remarks was on her period. Even groups he hasn’t explicitly attacked are subject to profoundly thoughtless remarks – in response to the murder of Nykea Aldridge, a black mother in Chicago, Trump tweeted, “African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”

For his supporters, this is just the kind of no-nonsense tough talk the country needs. Flying in the face of political correctness is regularly cited as one of the Trump’s greatest qualities, as though giving offense was a virtue in and of itself. But the reality is that Trump, and his legions of supporters, are among the most strident PC thugs in the country. Continue reading

Impervious no more: How the media makes and unmakes Trump


Trump formally announces his candidacy for president.

Donald Trump has been receiving some very bad headlines. Last week his poll numbers took their first serious hit after he fought with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of a Muslim Army captain who heroically sacrificed himself in Iraq. He topped himself on August 9 by committing an act of stochastic terrorism, using his pulpit to plant an idea in supporters’ minds that assassinating Hillary Clinton might be a good idea.

What lasting effect any of this will have on him remains to be seen. His supporters are cult-like and he has proven almost impervious to bad publicity. Yet for a man who relentlessly seeks the spotlight and who recently said, “All press is good press,” Trump has long had a tumultuous relationship with the media. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Words versus deeds: Foreign policy in the 2016 election

The likely 2016 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are the most disliked major party candidates in American history. But of all the faults these candidates have, their darkest aspects are most visible in foreign policy. And for as much as Americans don’t like the two of them, imagine what the rest of the world must think as the most powerful nation on earth prepares to hold an election between an accomplished war criminal and a maniac who pledges to become one. Continue reading

How religion determines if a mass shooter is a terrorist


A vigil in Thailand shows solidarity with the victims in Orlando.

In the wee hours of June 12, during a period of festivity and camaraderie, 49 people were killed and more than 50 others were injured by bullets fired from a military-grade assault weapon legally purchased by a man who had been a suspected terrorist. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, perpetrated by a US-born Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS. But if the killer had been anything other than Muslim, the national conversation in the tragedy’s wake might be much different.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump took the tragedy as an opportunity to pat himself on the back for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” Since that widely criticized tweet, most pundits and politicians have characterized shooter Omar Mateen as a terrorist. They did the same for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and San Bernardino killers Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook. But not all mass shooters are called terrorists. Those with names like James Holmes, Adam Lanza and Jared Loughner, for instance, usually aren’t. Continue reading