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Scandals and Conspiracy Theories

To help refresh your memory, The Guardian has put together a comprehensive list of all the scandals that the Clintons were involved in in the 90s. I say “involved in” facetiously, because pretty much none of them actually turned up anything substantial directly on the Clintons themselves (other than the fact that Bill Clinton, like many presidents before him, slept around).

Donald Trump has mention a few times the Vince Foster suicide (claiming that the Clintons had him bumped off), but Foster’s suicide was investigated by two separate Whitewater independent counsels and two bipartisan congressional panels, and all of them concluded that Foster took his own life. Even his sister says that he had been severely depressed before his suicide.

And speaking of Whitewater, in the end several prominent politicians were convicted of various fraud charges, while Hillary Clinton herself was cleared of all charges. But that won’t stop the Republicans (including Trump) of continuing to bring it up.

Now let’s look at the other side. Here’s a list of all the conspiracy theories that Donald Trump has tried to spread. There are a stunning 58 of them. Some are real doozies.

We all know about Trump being a “birther”, but did you know that Trump claims that a Hawaiian official was murdered covering up Obama’s birth certificate? Or that Trump asserts both that Obama never attended Columbia University, and that Obama was radicalized while attending Columbia! Trump also claims that “net neutrality” is actually a “top down power grab” of the internet by Obama. And that Obama was running guns from Libya to Turkey in order to arm ISIS terrorists? Oh, and the US is also purposely importing terrorists. He also argues that both Obama and Clinton are planning on “taking your guns away”. Trump has also repeated the false claim that vaccines cause autism.

If you’ve heard a crazy conspiracy theory recently, Trump probably passed it on, and may have even originated it. If this doesn’t convince you that Trump is a nutcase, nothing will.



  1. William wrote:

    Think-o: second from last paragraph, second sentance begins “Or that Obama claims that Obama…” I believe you meant to write “Or that TRUMP claims that Obama…”

    [oops, corrected. Thanks, –iron]

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 1:48 am | Permalink
  2. Wildwood wrote:

    You are preaching to the choir. I’ve never had any doubt the man is off the wall. Sly, clever and totally immoral and unethical and with an insane ability to convince the public that all their favorite conspiracy theories are not theories at all. Not to mention, giving them some new ones to latch onto. He is telling a certain portion of the public what they want to hear and they are truly elated to have their “beliefs” validated. He doesn’t “tell it like it is” as so many proclaim. He tells it like they want it to be.

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    You’ve never had any doubt, but two things still perplex me. 1) why do some current polls (even if they don’t mean much this early) show him neck-and-neck with Clinton? and 2) what can be done about it? What is the best way to get voters to realize what an unmitigated disaster a Trump presidency would almost certainly be?

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  4. Cathy M wrote:

    He is a classic narcissist. They are pathological liars, focusing only on the moment they are speaking (and saying whatever it takes to look good at that moment)and having no qualms at completely contradicting themselves if questioned – even if it’s very evident that the facts can be checked. It’s a personality disorder; they aren’t anchored to reality in any significant way, which is what makes his possible presidency such a horrible thought! (There’s a great book, “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists” if anyone wants to read more about it.)

    The good news is that it proves the Republicans are nowhere near as powerful as we feared; they apparently can’t “knock someone off” or damage them politically (unless the victims are honest folk who won’t stoop to being more dishonest). The fact that all their dirty tricks aren’t working on him tells me they can be beaten in other races (like Senate and House)- so I hope Democrats are looking hard at this.

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  5. Carter Shmeckle wrote:


    “why do some current polls (even if they don’t mean much this early) show him neck-and-neck with Clinton?”

    It’s not that most Trump supporters don’t know who Trump is. It’s that they think voting for Hillary would be even worse.

    To be more specific, I believe that they think that there is a least a chance that Trump may shake up what they perceive as a corrupt political system. They further believe that there is no such chance with “250K to speak to Goldman Sachs I got a pardon for Marc Rich” Hillary.

    When you try and paint Hillary as a paragon of virtue, and a champion of the little guy, these people will simply laugh and tune you out.

    Whining on about how corrupt Trump has been also will not sway these voters. They realize that he was a businessman, and his job was to make money. Coddling pols is part of that. Blaming him for doing so is like blaming a criminal defense lawyer for “tricking” a jury into acquitting a “guilty” defendant. That’s the lawyer’s job. It’s the job of of the judge and jury to be “clean.” Similarly, most people blame the pols for taking bribes (legal or otherwise), not the businesspeople who simply do what their competitors are doing.

    If Trump loses, IMHO it will probably be because he will have gratuitously insulted one constituency too many.

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  6. Wildwood wrote:

    I’ve never understood polling and why it’s given the weight it is. If you ask the question just the right way you get an answer that could be inaccurate or worse. If you ask the wrong persons the wrong way, same thing happens. Are the questions formed that way to get a certain result? I do online surveys on a variety of topics and I’m often amazed at the bias of the questions or questions that simply can not be answered with the format they use. Are there people who are swayed by these results, either by not bothering to vote because their candidate is too far behind or not voting because their candidate is so far ahead, so why bother? Are people going to change their minds about who to vote for because someone else seems to be more popular?

    I have not a clue about dealing with Trump. Clinton’s comments and actions are parsed to death. Trump says there’s no water shortage in California and his supporters just shrug and say he doesn’t mean it.

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  7. jonah wrote:

    Note that some of these polls have about 10% undecided. Until the % of undecideds gets lower the polls don’t mean much. I think Obama’s approval rating has more credence. If it remains above 50% i have a hard time believing this election will be close.

    Republicans for the most part are holding their nose and pulling towards their candidate. At this point Hilary is still to the left of center. Once the primaries are over she doesn’t have to pivot too much to get to the center. Thats when the polls will start to matter.

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    I do hope that both parties take some time to try to figure out why voters were so hungry for candidates (both Trump and Sanders) who didn’t resemble typical politicians, and then do something about it.

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Ralph wrote:

    On last Friday’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, his guest Scott “Dilbert” Adams explained why he thinks Trump will win the election in a landslide, despite his clueless, heartless pronouncements and utter disregard for the facts, by applying various proven techniques of persuasion and opposition branding, not unlike hypnotism of a sort that, by hook or by crook, helped make him a success in business, tv, and now political campaigning. In and of itself, not a slam dunk way to win office perhaps, at least not historically, but in these hyper-partisan, disillusioned and cynical times, more effective than you might have imagined up to now.

    It’s an interesting explanation of the Trump phenom, but I still have to believe that sooner or later (ideally before the election, of course) he’ll be exposed, if by a thousand cuts, as the phony and huckster he clearly is.

    But here’s a little sobering food for thought as we wrap up another Memorial Day weekend (especially memorializing the vets Trump likes, you know, the ones who weren’t captured) – even after he loses, the people who voted for him will still be here!

    Monday, May 30, 2016 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
  10. Jonah wrote:

    Re the attraction for sanders and trump. I can understand sanders to an extent. The 2008 recession partly explains him I think free tuition caught on with the younger voters and social media is a great way to spread a message via tools like snapchat etc so I think Sanders became popular that way. Couple that with the impression that people have that Clinton is close to wall street which people assume to be directly related to the recession and you get dislike for Clinton and fervor for Sanders.

    As far as Trump goes, the above wsj article explains part of the attraction for him as well.

    However another reason for the attraction may be the same reason that some people were attracted to organizations like IS. They just want things to be shaken up just for the sake of it. Read the last few para’s for reasons why a couple of Bernie supporters are supporting him and will never support hillary

    Trumps campaign is similar to IS in some regards. The latter exploited social media by using shock and aw events like beheadings to capture peoples attention via the media. Trump did something similar. What most people consider crazy talk was outrageous enough for a certain segment of people to get attracted to like fireflies to light.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 3:01 am | Permalink
  11. Ralph wrote:

    Johnah – All WSJ articles are behind a paywall, so it would help when referencing them to cut and paste a few key snippets or paragraphs for those not subscribed, though I get and largely agree with the argument you make there. Many young, and older people for that matter, including those not glued to the social media scene, see how education and health care are better managed by other modern industrialized countries and wonder why the richest country in the history of the world can’t do better to emulate them in this regard. But it’s simply impossible to convince certain segments of society that profit-driven capitalism is not a viable and sustainable prescription for certain sectors of the economy. For them, the very term “socialism” in any form is a non-starter, given the current distrust and cynicism of gov’t, regardless of how they feel about Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. Some often don’t even recognize those as being gov’t programs!

    I mean, how long can ANY sector of the economy that has wildly outpaced the general rate of inflation for decades now be fiscally sustained, without it becoming constrained to a smaller and smaller percentage of the upper crust, as we’ve observed? Besides stagnant wage growth over much the same period, this is arguably the greatest threat to the middle class.

    The question, and wild card, in my mind regarding fervent Bernie supporters is whether they really will stay home on election day in significant numbers as some have asserted, assuming Hillary is the nominee as now seems likely, in passive protest and thereby contributing to a possible Trump victory, which one would imagine even the most diehard of Bernie fans would be appalled by or being seen to abet. I refuse to accept the argument that Bernie supporters would rather vote for Trump than Clinton.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    Polls no longer mean anything. They are gamed like most anything else. What were the questions asked that lead to the conclusion? I suspect a close race is what the media wants.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  13. Jonah wrote:

    Ralph, here are the contents. FYI though, if you do run across a wsj article behind a paywall you can try putting the headline in google search bar and you should get access to a link that would provide you full access to that particular article. In this case the headline is “Economic Scars Help Explain Bizarre 2016 Race”

    The search for an explanation of this year’s bizarre political climate leads to a basic conclusion: The recession that started in 2007 and the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 scared and scarred the electorate more deeply and more permanently than has been recognized before.

    Yes, the economic statistics say there’s been a recovery—a relatively nice one at that. But mentally, many Americans have never recovered, and perhaps never will. The experience has altered their attitudes about the political and economic systems and their leaders, and left them willing to consider risky alternatives.

    What the country is experiencing “is the difference between a car crash and having your house burn down,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart. “A car crash is something that fades as the three or six months mark goes by. Your house burning down is never forgotten. It is always there and there is no half-life.”

    What’s new here isn’t that the recession was traumatic, of course, but a dawning realization that its psychological aftereffects have been so deep and long-lasting. Why is this becoming clear now, as opposed to four years ago, when an incumbent president was re-elected with relative ease? In 2012, Mr. Hart says, “Americans were still digging out.” Today, they have dug out, yet are still feeling a hangover the isn’t going away. They are acting accordingly.

    This delayed effect explains how so many allegedly smart people failed so completely to see what was coming in the campaign of 2016. It explains the staying power of Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, the parallel struggles of Hillary Clinton there, the demise of a whole string of seemingly strong but completely conventional candidates on the Republican side, and, of course the mind-bending rise of Donald Trump.

    Here’s one way of reading where we stand: The country hasn’t so much chosen Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton—assuming she survives her primary challenge—as the two best alternatives, but rather has found itself left with them at the end of a primary process in which other alternatives were cast aside.

    The deeply negative views of these two suggest Americans still aren’t finding the answers they have been seeking. Mr. Trump’s attitude fits the times but his temperament isn’t really right; Mrs. Clinton is plenty competent but also represents a bit too much the times and the system Americans want to move beyond. The scars may not be fully healed in 2016 any more than they were in 2012.

    There is data to support this mega explanation of 2016. Nominally the economy has been expanding for 6½ years, well above the average for a post-World War II recovery. The economy has added jobs for 74 straight months.

    Yet the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found that Americans’ view of the path the country is on actually has turned darker as the economic recovery has unfolded. At the beginning of 2009, while the financial crisis was in full swing but tempered by the optimism that accompanied the coming inauguration of Barack Obama, 59% of Americans surveyed thought the country was off on the wrong track.

    Two years into the recovery, views actually began to darken, at least as measured by this “wrong track” reading. By the middle of 2011, 67% said the country was off on the wrong track. By late 2013, that number had reached 78%. It has since moderated a bit, but last month stood at 70%.

    A newly published survey of American households by the Federal Reserve helps explain this mix of anxiety and anger amid recovery. Some 69% of adults surveyed at the end of 2015 reported that they were either “living comfortably” or “doing OK,” up from 65% in 2014 and 62% in 2013. Americans were slightly more likely to say their financial well-being had improved during the year than to say it had declined.

    Yet those numbers mask a sense of eroding confidence born of stagnant or declining wages and job insecurity. Just 23% said they expected their income to be higher in the coming year. Almost half of adults said they couldn’t cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would have to cover it by selling something or borrowing money.

    A Pew Research Center study offers a similar picture. At the beginning of this year, 70% of Americans were dissatisfied with the state of the economy, up from 61% at the beginning of 2007, before crisis struck.

    Economic attitudes don’t fully explain the national unease, of course. Terror scares and culture wars play a part as well.

    But whatever the precise causes, the depth of the scars, and the dissatisfaction with the alternatives, do little to suggest we should expect some feeling of satisfaction and national unity to emerge miraculously after the election of 2016, regardless of outcome.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 1:56 am | Permalink
  14. Ralph wrote:

    Thanks Johnah – that’s actually what I do in those circumstances and it usually works (heard about that technique several years ago), but not sure most are aware of it. So I had already read the article in that link.

    Hey, imagine if the we have another wild card where the Libertarians putting up their candidate (Johnson) and Bernie run on an Independent ticket. Not likely, but bound to drive the pollsters and media running in circles. A disillusioned electorate is the presiding theme this year above all else.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 4:39 am | Permalink
  15. Iron Knee wrote:

    A slightly different and fascinating take on this comes from David Frum in The Atlantic —

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 7:14 am | Permalink
  16. Wildwood wrote:

    Jonah, I’m a survey taker. I can’t tell how many times I’ve been asked, “Do you think the country is heading in the right direction?” How do you answer that? Your choice is yes or no. Yes because we have a Democratic President who is trying to undo the harm of the previous one? No because we are still under the thumb of a dysfunctional Congress and most states have legislatures firmly in the hands of the right? Yes because the job situation is improving? No because the president is not doing enough to stop the environmental damage, much of it caused by our continued love affair with oil? I don’t know how they can not read into your yes or no answer, whatever they want to.

    They they will ask if you are better off today than you were last year and the next question, do you think you will be better off next year. We are retired and on a fixed income that is being eroded, so the answer is no and no for me. But they don’t know why I answered the way I did and that’s important to know.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink