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“Triple Standards”: The Media Treatment Of The Clintons Never Improves

Let’s take a look at this Associated Press piece that is being prominently featured at the Fox News website. The headline writers certainly tried to make it appealing to those who are opposed to another Clinton presidency: Clinton opened State Department office to dozens of corporate donors, Dem fundraisers.

But, once you open the article and start reading, you encounter the following disclaimer (emphasis mine):

The woman who would become a 2016 presidential candidate met or spoke by phone with nearly 100 corporate executives and long-time Clinton political and charity donors during her four years at the State Department between 2009 and 2013, records show.

Those formally scheduled meetings involved heads of companies and organizations that pursued business or private interests with the Obama administration, including with the State Department while Clinton was in charge.

The AP found no evidence of legal or ethical conflicts in Clinton’s meetings in its examination of 1,294 pages from the calendars. Her sit-downs with business leaders were not unique among recent secretaries of state, who sometimes summoned corporate executives to aid in international affairs, documents show.

Based on the fact that the AP found nothing unusual or unique about her meetings and that they aren’t even willing to allege any ethical conflict, let alone any legal issues, there appears to be no reason to read the rest of this article at all.


Well, of course not.

There’s always a “but.”

But the difference with Clinton’s meetings was that she was a 2008 presidential contender who was widely expected to run again in 2016. Her availability to luminaries from politics, business and charity shows the extent to which her office became a sounding board for their interests. And her ties with so many familiar faces from those intersecting worlds were complicated by their lucrative financial largess and political support over the years — even during her State Department tenure — to her campaigns, her husband’s and to her family’s foundation.

So, wait a minute!

Are there any ethical issues or not?

You just said that there is “no evidence” of ethical issues. None.

And then you said that the totally routine and not-unique meetings you analyzed were “complicated” by “lucrative financial largesse” and “political support.”

Can I be a nudge here and simply ask that these reporters say what the mean and mean what they say?

How about this?

You think that a cabinet member who has political ambitions should be held to a higher and different standard from one who does not. So, for example, Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice can meet with the CEO of Pepsi Co. without it meriting a snarling headline but Hillary Clinton cannot.

But, if that’s the argument you want to make then you have uncovered an ethical conflict. Why not have the courage of your convictions and say so?

Or, maybe, you want to carve an even more exclusive exception to your normal standards and argue that what really distinguishes Hillary Clinton from other cabinet members and former secretaries of State is that her husband is a former president who runs a big foundation.

In this case, you’re creating a standard that only applies, and really only could apply, to Hillary Clinton. Even if she does something that doesn’t meet the ordinary criteria for creating an ethical conflict, she can still be hammered for doing something wrong because of unique circumstances that only pertain to her.

Let’s consider the competition. Even the National Review is appalled by Ben Carson’s connection to Mannatech, a medical-supplement maker that then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged “with orchestrating an unlawful marketing scheme that exaggerated their products’ health benefits.”

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee became a spokesman for a “Diabetes Solution Kit” that “the American Diabetes Association and the Canadian Diabetes Association caution consumers against” using. He also used his mailing list to promote cancer cures based on biblical passages.

And let’s not forget that Donald Trump created a fake university that was such a scam that he was sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

These are some pretty low-level examples of simple hucksterism, almost too mundane to compare to the cross-pollinating between the Clintons’ political ambitions and their operation of the Global Initiative. To see something similarly complex and ambiguous enough to bear a resemblance to the latter, you probably need to look into Jeb Bush’s long history with the charter school and school standards and testing movements.

To be clear, just because one candidate is nakedly promoting fraud doesn’t mean that the press should avoid looking at another candidate’s complex financial connections. But it’s basically a smear to publish a piece like this one from the Associated Press, especially when you are unwilling to spell out your double standard and really justify the rationale behind it. And the headline writers take advantage, too, to get the clicks they’re after.

This story says that Hillary Clinton did nothing unusual, illegal, or even unethical, but that’s not the impression the story and the headline leaves, is it?

Haven’t we seen enough of this kind of media treatment of the Clintons over the years?


By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 30, 3015

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Fox News, Hillary Clinton, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Will Jeb Hold His Fire On Rubio?”: It May Simply Be Too Late For Team Bush To Do Anything At All

When the Bush family is your friend:

On the night of the 2010 midterm elections, a portly, silver-haired Jeb Bush stood on a stage in the courtyard of Miami’s luxe Biltmore Hotel, appearing to choke back tears. The beloved former governor of Florida was there to introduce the young conservative insurgent who had just pulled off a remarkable underdog victory in the U.S. Senate race.

“Bushes get emotional, so I’m gonna try my hardest,” Jeb told the ecstatic crowd of Republicans. “My wife told me, ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry.’ But Marco Rubio makes me cry for joy!”

At the time, it looked like the culmination of a sturdy alliance and deep friendship — the proud mentor presenting his protege.

When the Bush family is not your friend:

Meanwhile, in a series of off-the-record conversations, Jeb’s messengers tried to convince a number of influential figures in political media that they had the goods on Rubio. Among these was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. A former Republican congressman from Florida who remained tapped into the state’s politics, Scarborough was skeptical whenever somebody tried to convince him that Rubio had an explosive career-ending secret lurking in his past.

“Everybody who runs against him says he has girlfriends, or financial problems. They throw a lot of shit at the wall,” Scarborough told me. “It’s the same thing from the Jeb Bush camp. They keep telling me, ‘Oh, we’ve got the thing that’s going to take him down.’ But nobody’s ever produced anything that we all haven’t read in the Tallahassee Democrat.”

Back in October 2004, Richard Gooding did a deep-dive for Vanity Fair on how the Bush machine had trashed John McCain during the 2000 South Carolina primary. It’s the kind of piece that merits an occasional re-reading, especially whenever there’s a Bush running for president, which seems to be most of the time.

There appears to be no doubt that Team Jeb is prepared for a repeat performance and that Marco Rubio is their target. Round One was during the early fundraising/endorsement phase of the campaign. Round Two is coming up shortly.

Yet, it may be too little, too late. Politico reports that Republican senators are so concerned about Ted Cruz that they’re beginning to coalesce behind Rubio. This is basically an acknowledgment that Jeb simply has no juice and is never going to rise out of his doldrums. In fact, Jeb may find that there’s no appetite for the Phase Two attack on Rubio from the Republican Establishment because they now see Rubio as their last opportunity to avoid a catastrophic situation where their nominee comes from the Trump/Carson/Cruz camp.

Trump and Carson are seen as unfit for the office of the presidency, and Cruz is simply loathed. All three of them are considered poor general election candidates who have the potential to put the GOP’s congressional majorities (especially the Senate) at risk.

If Jeb’s minions go out there floating rumors that Marco Rubio has a secret family and a bushel of mistresses, that’s not going to fly. It would be one thing if this were going to work for Bush, but the latest Quinnipiac poll out of Iowa has him at four percent. I mean, even the moribund Rand Paul campaign is at five percent.

If the Bushes tear down Rubio without rising themselves, there’s no one left to stop the barbarians at the gates of the Republican National Convention.

It may simply be too late for Team Bush to do anything at all about their situation. Assuming, that is, that they want to retain any good will with the Republican Establishment at all.


By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 30, 2015

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump Giving The People What They Want”: A Whack-A-Mole Of The Asinine And The Repugnant

“You got to give the people what they want.”

Even by his standards, it was an astounding performance.

Over the course of just two days last weekend, Donald Trump spewed bigotry, venom and absurdity like a sewer pipe, spewed it with such utter disregard for decency and factuality that it was difficult to know what to criticize first.

Shall we condemn him for retweeting a racist graphic on Sunday filled with wildly inaccurate statistics from a nonexistent source (“Whites killed by blacks — 81 percent”)?

Or shall we hammer him for tacitly encouraging violence when an African-American protester was beaten up at a Trump rally in Birmingham on Saturday? “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump told Fox “News.”

Shall we blast him for telling ABC on Sunday that he would bring back the thoroughly discredited practice of waterboarding — i.e., torturing — suspected terrorists?

Or shall we lambaste him for claiming — falsely — at the Birmingham rally that “thousands and thousands” of people in Jersey City, New Jersey, applauded the Sept. 11 attacks and reiterating it the next day, telling ABC that “a heavy Arab population … were cheering.”

Trump is a whack-a-mole of the asinine and the repugnant. Or, as a person dubbed “snarkin pie” noted on Twitter: “Basically, Trump is what would happen if the comments section became a human and ran for president.”

Not that that hurts his bid for the GOP nomination. A Washington Post/CNN poll finds Trump with a double-digit lead (32 percent to 22 percent) on his nearest rival, Ben Carson, who is his equal in nonsense, though not in volume. Meantime, establishment candidate Jeb Bush is on life support, mired in single digits.

And the party is panicking. In September, Bobby Jindal called Trump “a madman.” Two weeks ago came reports of an attempt to lure Mitt Romney into the race. Candidate Jim Gilmore and advisers to candidates Bush and Marco Rubio have dubbed Trump a fascist. Trump, complains the dwindling coven of grown-ups on the right, is doing serious damage to the Republican “brand.”

Which he is. But it is difficult to feel sorry for the GOP. After all, it has brought this upon itself.

Keeping the customer satisfied, giving the people what they want, is the fundament of sound business. More effectively than anyone in recent memory, Trump has transferred that principle to politics. Problem is, it turns out that what a large portion of the Republican faithful wants is racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, the validation of unrealistic fears and the promise of quick fixes to complex problems.

That’s hardly shocking. This is what the party establishment has trained them to want, what it has fed them for years. But it has done so in measured tones and coded language that preserved the fiction of deniability. Trump’s innovation is his increasingly-apparent lack of interest in deniability. Like other great demagogues — George Wallace, Joe McCarthy, Huey Long, Charles Coughlin — his appeal has been in the fact that he is blunt, unfiltered, anti-intellectual, full-throated and unapologetic. And one in three Republicans are eating it up like candy.

Mind you, this is after the so-called 2013 “autopsy” wherein the GOP cautioned itself to turn from its angry, monoracial appeal. Two years later, it doubles down on that appeal instead.

And though candidate Trump would be a disaster for the Republicans, he would also be one for the nation, effectively rendering ours a one-party system. But maybe that’s the wake-up call some of us require to end this dangerous flirtation with extremism.

“You got to give the people what they want,” says an old song. Truth is, sometimes it’s better if you don’t.


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, November 30, 2015

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Donald Trump, GOP Base, Racism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“How Donald Trump Broke Jeb Bush”: Political Jujutsu; Turning An Asset Into An Albatross

In jujutsu, one uses an opponent’s weight against him. And, in the version most often seen in politics, a candidate turns his opponent’s strength into a weakness. In political jujutsu, assets can become liabilities.

In 1992, Bill Clinton faced off against George H.W. Bush. The latter had been a congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, special envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Vice President of the United States. By contrast, Clinton was governor of the 32nd-largest state—Arkansas.

If that election had boiled down to résumés, Bush would have walked off with it. But the Clinton War Room created a new narrative that revolved around youth, energy, fresh ideas. They made Bush’s experience a liability instead of an asset.

Now, in 2015, Donald Trump has employed the same strategy against Jeb Bush, and quite effectively at that. In most polls, Bush seems cemented in fifth place—behind Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, one of Bush’s major strengths was thought to be his strong appeal to Hispanic voters. Republicans were still smarting from Mitt Romney’s decisive defeat in 2012 at the hands of an incumbent president who enjoyed a wide margin of support from Hispanics. Romney did horribly with those voters.

Hispanics have a disproportional importance to the political process for three reasons—youth, unpredictability, and location. First, they’re younger than most other groups of voters; Hispanics have a median age of 27, compared to 37 for the overall U.S. population. So they’ll be around for a while.

Next, while the majority of Hispanics are registered Democrats, they have shown a willingness to cross party lines to support moderate Republicans. George W. Bush is the prime example, winning 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

And lastly, they represent a significant presence in three “purple” battleground states: Colorado, Florida, and Nevada.

As Republicans proceeded to do an autopsy on Romney’s defeat, two different schools of thought emerged. Either the GOP nominee came up short because he hadn’t inspired enough white conservatives to come out, or because he had done such a poor job of reaching out to those voters who don’t typically vote Republican—especially Hispanics.

For those in the first school, the problem was that the party had nominated the wrong person. A more dependable conservative, they reasoned, could have done a better job of bringing out the GOP base.

Those in the second school agreed that the GOP needed to get behind a different sort of candidate in 2016. But, for them, the problem wasn’t that Romney didn’t excite the base but that he did nothing to widen it.

That’s the view of former White House political adviser and GOP strategist Karl Rove, who during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe shot down the idea that there was some “magical cache of conservative voters” that could save the day in 2016. Instead, he argued, the emphasis for Republicans should be on peeling off voters that traditionally vote Democratic.

Asked if Donald Trump could win the general election, Rove said, “My view is no, but we’ll see.” Asked to explain why not, he referred back to the party’s nominee in 2012.

“If Mitt Romney lost with 27 percent among Latinos,” Rove said, “how good would someone do when he’s got an 11 percent approval rating among Latinos?”

Rove and Co. decided early on in the prep for 2016 what was needed was a Republican with a proven track record of appealing to Hispanic voters, getting them out of their Democratic comfort zone, and showing them enough respect that they actually consider voting for the Republican nominee for president.

That candidate was supposed to be Jeb Bush, who had all the ingredients of being the most Hispanic-friendly Republican candidate in history. Bush speaks fluent Spanish, has a Mexican-born wife, spouts moderate views on immigration, and won more than 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in each of his Florida gubernatorial races in 1998 and 2002.

Bush was supposed to be the peacemaker who mended fences with Hispanics, and reassured them that Romney’s cold shoulder notwithstanding, they were indeed welcome in the Republican Party. Mi casa es su casa.

But with a series of deft maneuvers, and a little political jujutsu, Trump managed to turn Bush’s asset into a liability that essentially took him out of the race.

When Bush described as “an act of love” the concept of a Mexican immigrant traveling north to the United States—even without proper documents—in order to reunite with family members or to support a family back home, or when Bush spoke to Hispanic crowds in Spanish and fielded questions from Spanish-language media in the same language, or when Bush told an audience in New Hampshire that he had a “grown up plan” to deal with immigration that combined border security with earned legal status for the undocumented, Trump pounced. And pounced. And pounced some more. In tweets, speeches, and jabs, Trump has learned to effectively use Bush’s own words against him.

On one occasion, the weapon wasn’t Bush’s choice of words but something much more personal: His choice of a life partner.

In July, Trump advanced the theory that Jeb’s moderate views on immigration stem from the fact that his wife, Colomba, was born in Mexico. It started with a tweet created by a third party, but retweeted by Trump’s account, which asserted: “Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” The tweet was later deleted. Colomba Bush came to the United States legally, and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

During an interview on CNN’s AC360, Trump was asked by Anderson Cooper if he authorized the retweet. He said he didn’t, but also that he didn’t regret that the retweet went out from his account. Then, in so many words, he restated the accusation.

“I don’t regret it,” Trump said. “I mean, look, I would say that he would. If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico. I can understand that.”

Understand this. All these things—that Bush speaks Spanish, supports legal status for the undocumented, married a woman from Mexico—feed the narrative that Trump has pushed to working-class whites since he first began attacking the establishment’s candidate: “Bush isn’t for you. He’s for the Mexicans.”

It’s not unlike the accusations from some on the right wing in 2008 that Barack Obama, if elected, would be a president for African Americans but no one else.

As a Mexican-American, I knew this day would come—when someone who spoke Spanish and had moderate views on immigration would be accused of being too close to “the Mexicans.” But I never imagined the accusation would be hurled at a white guy.

Using political jujutsu, Trump will probably keep Bush out the top tier of GOP presidential candidates until that moment when Bush drops out of the race altogether.

And that’s a real shame. Bush isn’t the perfect candidate, but he’s a serious person who could step into the role of president on Day 1. He could also move his party forward on immigration and help make things right with a group of voters who Republicans can’t afford to write off. Besides, by all accounts, he’s a good man. That can’t be said of his chief nemesis. What Trump did to Bush was evil. Brilliant, but evil.


By: Ruben Navarrettte, Jr., The Daily Beast, November 30, 2015

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hispanics, Jeb Bush, Latinos | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A ‘Kill-And-Cover-Up’ Police Culture?: Systemic And Institutional Problems That Extend Far Beyond One Allegedly Trigger-Happy Cop

When public officials refuse to release a video that shows alleged misconduct by a police officer, you should only expect the worst.

That’s particularly true in Chicago, where one “bad apple” too often has signaled a bushel of cover-ups and other problems underneath.

Such are the suspicions that haunt the city’s stalling for more than a year the release of a dashcam video that shows white police officer Jason Van Dyke firing 16 shots into the body of black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel denounced the behavior as a case of one allegedly bad apple. Yet the video and various actions taken before and after the shooting point to systemic and institutional problems that extend far beyond one allegedly trigger-happy cop.

Why, for example, did the city sit on the dash-cam video for more than a year before a judge ordered its release on open-records grounds?

Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez have said the time was needed to conduct proper investigations. But compare that to the Cincinnati case last summer in which black driver Samuel DuBose was fatally shot on camera by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing during a routine traffic stop.

The video, which contradicted Tensing’s account of being dragged by DuBose’s vehicle, was released and Tensing was charged with murder and fired from the department in less than two weeks.

The Chicago video similarly refutes a police union spokesman’s allegation of McDonald lunging at police with a knife on the night of Oct. 20, 2014.

Instead it shows the teen, reportedly with PCP in his system, holding a small knife but moving away from police when Van Dyke opens fire — and inexplicably keeps firing at McDonald’s flinching body on the ground. Only Van Dyke fires his weapon and none of the estimated seven police officers on the scene moves to help McDonald. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder.

Then there’s the question of what happened to video from a security camera at a nearby Burger King. A district manager for the restaurant chain has said police visited shortly after the shooting and were given access to the surveillance equipment. The next day, he has said, a portion of the video was missing.

Witnesses to the shooting told Jamie Kalven, an independent journalist and human rights activist whose nonprofit called the Invisible Institute filed a FOIA request to have the dashcam video released, that police tried to shoo witnesses away from the scene after the shooting instead of collecting names and other information.

And why, many wonder, did the mayor persuade the City Council to authorize a $5 million settlement for McDonald’s family, which had not filed a lawsuit. Emanuel claimed a desire to avoid jeopardizing the case. But Chicagoans with long memories — like me — wonder whether the cash is reparations or a form of hush money.

The city fought to conceal the video, even after the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and a freelance journalist all filed FOIA requests for its release.

To Kalven, the most important issue here is not just the shooting but how governmental institutions — from the police to the mayor’s office — responded to it, he says.

“And at every level,” he told me in a telephone interview, “we can see they responded by circling the wagons and creating a narrative that they knew was completely false.”

Kalven’s institute worked seven years to open up police files and establish an online database of misconduct complaints against police officers — 97 percent of which resulted in absolutely no disciplinary action.

Among other issues, Chicago and other cities will have to determine, like the rest of us, how to adjust to the new video age, an age that exposes so much to public view that used to be swept under various rugs.

The McDonald video reveals the flipside of the so-called “Ferguson effect,” a widely alleged tendency by some police to hesitate before responding to crime scenes for fear of getting caught in a career-ending cellphone video. If fear of video can prevent atrocities like that revealed in the McDonald case, that’s not a bad thing.


By: Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency; The National Memo, November 30, 3015

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Police Abuse, Police Unions, Public Officials | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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