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“The Never-Ending Hillary Clinton Story”: Up With The Strongman, Down With The Bitch!

Although nobody sensible would choose to do it this way, America’s political fate has become captive to the TV news media’s never-ending quest for ratings. Months before the earliest votes are cast, the 2016 presidential contest has turned into a “reality TV” melodrama.

The themes are broad and simple: Donald Trump is cast as the Nationalist Strongman and Hillary Clinton as the National Bitch. Up with the Strongman, down with the Bitch! Yes, 20 other candidates are vying for attention, and somebody else could assume a starring role should these narratives lose momentum.

Even the supposedly left-wing MSNBC broadcasts Trump’s speeches live, giving the billionaire braggart free publicity that even he might not be able to afford. Whatever you can say about Trump, he gives good TV — that is, if professional wrestling extravaganzas are your idea of family entertainment.

Also, it’s always been clear that no Democratic woman, and certainly not one named Clinton, can be elected President of the United States without being designated a brass-plated bitch. Having failed to entomb Bill Clinton and drive a wooden stake through his heart, wrecking Clinton’s candidacy has become the Washington press clique’s overriding goal.

And yet the geniuses running her campaign act as if they don’t know it. Consider reporter Amy Chozick’s remarkable piece in the September 8 issue of The New York Times: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” According to “extensive interviews” with “top strategists” at the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters, Chozick wrote, Mrs. Clinton would be urged to exhibit empathy and humor on the campaign trail.

Such as when she recently joked, apropos of Trump’s insistence that he didn’t buy that orange thing on his head from Hair Club for Men, that her own “hair is real,” though “the color isn’t.”

Well, it seems here that everybody in Clinton’s Brooklyn office involved in the Times exclusive ought to walk the plank. Voluntarily or otherwise. The Daily Caller‘s sarcastic headline summed things up perfectly: “Hillary Plans To Be More Spontaneous.”

The idea of Clinton as a kind of political Stepford Wife, calculating and “inauthentic” to use the cant term, is so deeply imprinted in the press clique’s standard narrative that they reacted pretty much the way your dog does when you rattle his leash.

Let Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank speak for them all: “And now comes the latest of many warm-and-fuzzy makeovers — perhaps the most transparent phoniness since Al Gore discovered earth tones.”

Never mind that the whole “earth tones” and “invented the Internet” fiascos were malicious inventions. Caricaturing Gore as a posturing phony made it possible for make-believe rancher George W. Bush to become president.

So how is it possible that Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, one of two staffers quoted in the Times by name, couldn’t see that coming?

Another Clinton staffer confided that although the candidate would emphasize income inequality, she’d be “scrapping the phrase ‘everyday Americans,’ which wasn’t resonating with voters.” One mocked it as too much like Walmart’s “Everyday low prices.”

Presumably, the campaign will choose a more tasteful slogan from Tiffany & Co. or Bergdorf Goodman.

Esquire‘s always understated Charles P. Pierce calls Clinton staffers “a writhing ball of faithless snakes,” more concerned with advancing themselves than electing her. Do they not grasp that wrecking her candidacy is Priority One at the New York Times?

Indeed, no sooner had Clinton made a rote apology for the manufactured email “scandal” than staffers “who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations,” hurried to the same Times reporter to emphasize that they’d been urging her to kiss the news media’s collective feet for weeks.

Supposedly, Bill had resisted the idea on the grounds that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Supposedly too, he urged staffers to try harder to make that clear.

Based solely on her appearance on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC program, I’d say the aforementioned Palmieri — President Obama’s former communications director — couldn’t explain how to pour sand out of a boot with the instructions printed on the heel. Her speech mannerisms make her difficult to follow, and she talks in circles.

The Clinton campaign needs to send out more spokespeople like former governors Howard Dean and Jennifer Granholm, who are capable of clarity and forcefulness. Here we are months into this pointless debacle and it’s left to the Justice Department to state that Clinton’s email arrangements were legal, proper, and presumably known to everybody in the Obama administration who sent her a message.

And, oh yeah, that business about how Clinton’s obsessive secrecy caused her computer’s server to be wiped of all data? That was false also, as Bill Clinton apparently wanted the campaign to say all along.

So spooks in places like the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (seriously) now say emails sent in 2010 should be made Top Secret in 2015?

Isn’t that like getting a traffic ticket in the mail from a town you drove through last month because they dropped the speed limit last week?

And if it really is as absurd as that, then shouldn’t somebody say so?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, Featured Post, September 16, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Heading To The Hall Of Shame?”: Jeb Goes South, Perhaps In More Ways Than One

So after a meh performance in the CNN debate, and with Matt Bai telling the whole world the Establishment’s on the edge of dumping him, the Great White Hope of the donor class and the political science community (just teasing you, just teasing you!) heads South, where he hopes to compete in some key primaries unless he finishes fifth in New Hampshire and has to join Phil Gramm in the Hall of Shame for presidential candidates with a whole lot more money than votes.

Today Jeb’s joining nine other candidates (overshadowed once again by Donald Trump, who canceled his appearance supposedly because he needs to go close a deal somewhere, though some suspect he wants to avoid questioning on the little Islamaphobia event that occurred at one of his rallies yesterday) in South Carolina this afternoon at a forum hosted by Heritage Action, the influential right-wing enforcer and adjunct to the Heritage Foundation. I’m assuming the event is in the Palmetto State partially because it’s an early primary state but mostly as a tribute to Heritage president Jim DeMint, who is co-hosting the forum with Nikki Haley. Since he didn’t get around to it on Wednesday night, you’d guess Scott Walker will finally talk about his new Power to the People union-busting initiative in the world’s most congenial venue maybe this side of Beijing.

Tomorrow Jeb traverses the 95 miles from Greenville, SC to Athens, GA to take in the Georgia-South Carolina football game–a game I was once planning to attend in person, but now that I’m not, I’m happy I won’t have to deal with the extra traffic his security detail will create.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein offers Team Jeb some advice on getting through this game without offending too many people, a process that’s made trickier by the fact that he was Governor of Florida for some of the many years that current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was tormenting the Georgia Bulldogs from his perch at the University of Florida.

Jeb Bush will have to walk a thin line when he heads to Athens on Saturday to campaign before the annual gridiron matchup between Georgia and South Carolina. And just who the former Florida governor will root for may be one of the tougher questions he gets.

Will he don the red and black of the Georgia faithful? Will he sport a shiny visor, the favored headgear of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier? Or will he fall somewhere in between, perhaps favoring a nice neutral shade of gray?

South Carolina is an early-voting state that Bush has crisscrossed trying to curry favor. But he’s also visited Georgia a half-dozen or so times in the past year — downing a Frosted Orange at the Varsity and hanging out with Ludacris under the Gold Dome — ahead of this state’s March 1 primary.

Local Republicans gave Bush some more advice:

Bush, a University of Texas graduate, will most likely try to appeal to both sides. If he goes that route, Republican strategist Brian Robinson came up with a handy list of how he can appeal to UGA’s Republicans without offending fans of South Carolina or his home base of Florida.

Among them: Point out that UGA has a tight end named Jeb, highlight the power of the Southeastern Conference and offer Georgia standout Nick Chubb a chance to be his Polk County campaign chairman.

As to what not to say, Robinson also had some ideas:

* I used to golf with Steve Spurrier when he was coach at Florida. Great guy.

* There’s too much inbreeding in the Uga line.”

* Sir, I think you’ve had enough to drink.”

Yuk Yuk.

I don’t know if Bush is going to be introduced to the 92,000 fans attending the game, but even in Georgia, I doubt he’ll get the reception gained by a political celebrity at a game I witnessed way back in the day. It was Prince Charles (before his marriage to Diana), who came out on the field at half-time, with the Georgia faithful dutifully chanting: “Damn Good Prince! Damn Good Prince!”

Good times.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 18, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Georgia, GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush, South Carolina | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Carly Fiorina, Crackpot Warmonger”: Did Anyone Hear Her Talk About Foreign Policy?

I agree, as I already wrote, that as these things are measured, Carly Fiorina “won” the debate. She was well prepared and well spoken; seemed to know what she was talking about; tugged at emotion when she mentioned having lost a child.

So that’s all fine. And I understand that pundits measure debate wins in odd ways. But, uh…did anybody listen to the substance of what she said? As Kate Brannen has already noted for the Beast, Fiorina’s military buildup would add $500 billion to an already historically huge Pentagon budget. But it’s far worse than that. This woman is a crackpot warmonger who would start World War III. No—III and IV. I could barely believe what I was hearing.

Many have already picked apart what appear to be Fiorina’s flat-out lies about the Planned Parenthood videos. I haven’t watched those videos in their entirety, so I can’t say with personal authority. But Sarah Kliff of Vox has, and Kliff writes that all that business about a fetus with legs still kicking and people talking about needing to “harvest its brain” just isn’t true. Doesn’t exist. The charitable explanation, according to Kliff, is that Fiorina was confusing the Planned Parenthood videos with another that includes stock footage of the sort Fiorina described and maybe she confused them in her mind. Or maybe she didn’t. Maybe she just lied.

Anyway, that’s not what I’m chiefly concerned about. What I think we should be concerned about were her remarks about Iran and Russia. Let’s have a look.

Iran: “On Day One in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.

“The second, to the Supreme Leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system.

“We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States of America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.”

Well, this sounds great. Grrrrrr, Supreme Leader! But stop and think for a second. What is Ayatollah Khamenei going to say in response? Probably something like: “Very well, Madam President. Then you are abrogating the deal, I see. OK. Thank you. Have a nice century.” Iran will then stop honoring the deal, or even pretending to, and start building a nuclear weapon or six.

And note well: The rest of the world will blame us, the United States, and President Fiorina, for being the ones who first broke the deal. And, if she makes such a phone call, rightly so, because we will be the ones to have broken it. We can reimpose some sanctions unilaterally. But will the European Union and the United Nations reimpose theirs? Not bloody likely if we broke the deal. And countries like India, which is probably now lifting sanctions it had agreed to when the United States was leading a multilateral effort, may well start giving Iran nuclear-related technologies. These are just a few of the events that phone call could set in motion.

And soon enough Iran will have a bomb. Or, President Fiorina will start a war to prevent it.

That brings us to Russia, on which she said: “Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him.

“What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message.”

So the president of the United States would just not talk to the president of Russia. Now, the president of Russia is a contemptible and dangerous quasi-fascist. But he is, you know, the president of Russia, a rather important country. I can’t remember an American president since Roosevelt who hasn’t talked to the head of the USSR or of post-Soviet Russia. Don’t these people remember that Ronald Reagan communicated with three Soviet premiers and talked directly with Mikhail Gorbachev? They don’t seem to remember now, but at the time, that was when Reagan lost them!

Fiorina seemed to get a lot of cred for name-dropping the Sixth Fleet. It shows that at least she read a briefing book, which is more than some of them do. And I will admit that I didn’t know (although I could logically have guessed) that the Sixth Fleet patrols the seas around Europe and Russia, from its base in Naples. So whoop de doo for her.

But this is what constitutes a good answer, just because she drops a little specific knowledge, even as she is essentially saying that her strategy as president with regard to one of the world’s two or three most dangerous and aggressive men is to surround him, provoke him, goad him into an act of war? That’s what “aggressive military exercises in the Baltic” states quite possibly ends up meaning. There’s this city in Estonia called Narva. Google it. It’s like 80 percent Russian or something. Putin has his little eye on it. World War III could start there, and all it would take is an errant American military shell landing in the wrong backyard. Or World War IV, in case President Fiorina has already started III in the Middle East.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 19, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Foreign Policy, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“American Exceptionalism In A Nutshell”: We Think “Freedom” Is Just Another Word For “Packing Heat”

Well, Donald Trump finally said something I agree with 100%:

Here’s what I said about gun rights and American Exceptionalism back in July when the president told the BBC that his inability to enact reasonable gun regulations was his greatest frustration:

Any British audience would be puzzled by this phenomenon, but then the Brits aren’t exactly freedom-loving, are they?

Well, actually they are, as are people in a lot of other advanced countries where there’s no expectation of any right to set oneself up as a private army.

And that gets to one of the roots of the ideology of “American exceptionalism.” If you compare the U.S. to other nations where there are reasonably solid traditions of self-government, respect for law, and democratic accountability, in what respect do we enjoy more “liberty?” When people tearfully sing along with Lee Greenwood’s “I’m proud to be an American,” what do they mean when they say “at least I know I’m free,” as compared, say, to a Canadian? The only thing readily identifiable is our unique freedom to pack heat. And so long as that is thought to be integral to American identity, and protected by powerful and wealthy interest groups, including maybe one-and-a-half major political parties, then efforts to take the most reasonable steps to keep guns out of the hands of potential shooters will continue to be “frustrated.”

I love my country, and I don’t want to live anywhere else. But I sure wish fewer of us thought of “freedom” as just another word for packing heat, and even fewer thought they had the right to stockpile weapons in case they decide it’s necessary to overthrow the government and impose their will on the rest of us.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 18, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | American Exceptionalism, Freedom, Gun Regulations | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Absolutely Unpresidential”: The Extremism On Display At The GOP Debate Would Have Horrified Anyone Who’s Actually Been President

I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat after the last Republican debate. I had a vision of President Ronald Reagan sitting in the front row at his library watching the debate. Alongside him were fellow Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Gerald Ford and even Richard Nixon.

Very quickly the blood drained from their faces. They began to fidget, to shift awkwardly in their chairs. They began to look around for the exits. These men who had led our nation, made difficult decisions and participated in politics their entire lives were appalled at what was going on before them.

Sure, they were shocked at the nastiness and vitriol among the candidates – this was way over the top. Sure, they were amazed that the front-runner was one Donald Trump, who belonged on “Entertainment Tonight,” not a presidential debate. Sure, they understood that how the candidates were behaving was counter to everything they knew about getting elected in America.

But my guess is what really frosted these men was that the substance of what most of these candidates were saying was so unreasonable, so off base, so totally devoid of reality, that it was downright scary.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and others, saying they would tear up the Iran agreement on day one of his presidency, thereby ensuring that no foreign leader would trust the U.S. to keep its word in the future. Former CEO Carly Fiorina stating flatly she would not ever talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin. No negotiating, no contact, nada. That would surprise Reagan and the others who always talked to our enemies and kept the lines of communications open – from the Soviet Union to “Red” China.

And how about blanket threats, with Fiorina’s phone call to the “Supreme Leader” of Iran that we will throw out the agreement and “move money around the global financial system.” Trump showed no knowledge of foreign policy and simply said he would hire great advisers – where are they now, the ones he watches on cable TV? And then there was the suggestion that we deport 11 million people because “the good ones will come back.” And, of course, there was the fight about who was the worst CEO or who could attack Planned Parenthood with the most vengeance.

The sheer level of ignorance, lack of preparation and categorical, extreme statements on critical policy matters was astounding. My guess is that these former presidents, had they been present, would have truly wondered what had happened to their country and the quality of the candidates running for the highest office in the land.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, September 18, 2015

September 20, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Past U. S. Presidents | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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