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Dear Bernie Bullies, I’m So Over You

In early August 1968, just weeks after Bobby Kennedy was killed, my father and I took a walk through the fields of my great-grandmother’s house and plotted my career.

We didn’t know that at the time. I was only 11. He was 31, a father of four who had already worked for more than a decade at the local power plant. Those few facts about him make me shake my head at how young he was, how overwhelmed he must have felt so much of the time.

My beloved grandma BeBout’s farmhouse was a half-hour and a world away from our home in small-town Ashtabula, Ohio. I was supposed to spend just two weeks with her, which is why Dad was there. Minutes after his arrival, our collective tears persuaded him to let me stay longer.

For the first time, it occurred to me that my father was capable of missing me. He wasn’t in a hurry to leave, and he asked whether I wanted to go for a walk. We trudged through the cornfield and kept going, Dad jingling the coins in his pants pocket with one hand as we strolled.

I had just finished reading a paperback about Bobby Kennedy’s life. It was one of those quick-press editions sold down the street at a newsstand owned by a woman we all called Aunt Louise even though she was no relation. She often let me sit in the back of the store to read paperbacks free. When the Kennedy book arrived — I think its cover was glossy white with a small black-and-white photo of Bobby at the top — she gave it to me as a gift because she knew how sad I was that he had died.

I don’t recall how I brought up the book to my dad, but I do remember being surprised at how he paid attention as I told him about what I’d read. At one point, I made my announcement. I remember the wording only because he never forgot it.

“I think I’ll go into politics, Dad,” I told him. “Maybe write books about it or something.”

My father didn’t laugh or make fun of me. He just nodded his head and assured me that after I went to college — a nonnegotiable in our family — I’d be able to do anything I want. Politics would be a fine profession, he said, as long as I remained a Democrat.

“Maybe one day,” he said, “you could even be president.”

I’m not sure he believed that, but he wanted me to, and I don’t have any doubt he’d vote for Hillary Clinton if he were alive today. Not because he was a feminist. Lord, no. His affection for strong women began and ended with his three daughters, but our persistence would have gotten him there.

I grew up in a time when a woman who owned her own newsstand was famous because she was so rare. Aunt Louise was unmarried, which the grown-ups tirelessly pointed out as the reason she could do such a thing. What else did she have to live for?

I share this story from my childhood to illustrate just how long I’ve been waiting for something I could imagine at such a young age. There are so many women like me. We were born in a time when most of the country believed that white women should be sequestered at home, but we dared to believe we would grow up to be evidence to the contrary. I emphasize the privilege of our race because so many women of color never had the option to stay home.

Plenty of good people support Bernie Sanders, but his bullies are out of control. I am so over them. I no longer care when they accuse me of voting my gender. How interesting that they think there’s something wrong with so many women who want, for the first time in history, to see themselves reflected in the most powerful person in the world.

I support Clinton for a long list of reasons. The Sanders bullies say that makes me part of the “establishment.” I wish my working-class parents had lived long enough to hear that. How they would have howled.

There was a time when I got worked up over those voices of superiority telling me who I am because I don’t want what they do. I couldn’t care less now. My roots are my legacy, and I don’t owe anyone an apology or explanation for who I am.

When I was 11 years old, my dad told me a little girl could grow up to be president.

Forty-eight years later, I believe him.

 

By: Connie Schultz, The National Memo, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , | 1 Comment

“When The Police Are Called To A Governor’s Hotel Room…”: Your Audition For National Office Is Off To An Awkward Start

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) was already confronted with an unwelcome controversy. A month ago, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the FBI has spent “several months” talking to Republican officials in the state about Martinez’s campaign fundraising activities. Though the Republican governor has insisted the allegations are without merit, Martinez conceded she’d already spoken to the FBI about one of her top advisors.

And now, the governor has a new political headache to deal with. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Friday:

[Martinez] found herself attracting a different sort of national attention Friday after the release of a recording in which she told law enforcement dispatchers that police should not investigate disturbance complaints against her group at a Santa Fe hotel.

Martinez’s recorded dealings with police, dispatchers and hotel employees made her a wide target for criticism Friday. Her detractors and political enemies accused her of trying to bully other government employees to thwart an investigation.

As gubernatorial controversies go, this is an odd one. The governor recently held a holiday party for her staff at a hotel, but someone called the police about disturbances from Martinez’s room, where someone was allegedly throwing bottles from a balcony.

Audio recordings were released Friday that showed Martinez demanding hotel staff tell her who made the noise complaint and trying to discourage the police from following up.

By Friday night, the governor issued a statement expressing regret.  ”I want to apologize for the conduct of my staff the night of our holiday party,” Martinez wrote. “There was apparently a party in a hotel room earlier in the night that was disruptive. Someone was also throwing snowballs from a balcony. None of that should have happened and I was not aware of the extent of the behavior, until recently. And that behavior is not acceptable.

“I also want to admit that I made a mistake when I went to speak to the receptionist and asked her about the complaint. I should not have gotten involved in trying to resolve the situation, nor should I have spoken to the dispatcher on the phone. I was wrong to speak with them like that, and I apologize.”

In the larger context, it’s worth noting that Martinez is not just another GOP governor. The New Mexican recently became the chair of the Republican Governors Association, and as we discussed a month ago, she’s also frequently mentioned as a possible VP candidate for her party in 2016. When Marco Rubio was asked about possible running mates, he specifically mentioned Martinez by name six weeks ago.

But at this point, I think it’s safe to say her audition for national office is off to an awkward start.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 21, 2015

December 24, 2015 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Republican Governors Association, Susana Martinez | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Blood, Sweat And Trump”: The Fluids Of Women In Particular Rattle Trump

Everybody pees.

That’s actually the name of a public service campaign by the National Kidney Foundation, and I thought it a needless statement of the obvious until Donald Trump brought me to my senses. Apparently some people think that the laws of urology don’t apply to them. Apparently Trump is in this category.

On Monday he said this of Hillary Clinton’s mid-debate bathroom break: “I know where she went. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting.”

He didn’t specify why. But it’s difficult to find anything indecorous about Clinton’s behavior unless you see it as entirely volitional and utterly controllable — something you do to indulge yourself, something that can be put off for hours or forever, an emblem of your weakness. I guess in Trump’s world, only “low energy” people need to go.

That would make sense, given how fantastical his cosmos is. It’s a place where thousands of Muslims in New Jersey publicly cheer the fall of the World Trade Center; where a stretch of the Potomac River alongside a Virginia golf club of his magically becomes a Civil War site; where his own net worth changes by an order of billions from one moment to the next, in accordance with his need to puff up his chest.

Why wouldn’t it also be a place where people relieve themselves only if they’re losers and they’re intent on a messiness that they can avoid? Maybe Trump really doesn’t pee. Maybe he outsources that to a Mexican immigrant in his employ.

You have to hand it to him: He divines character flaws where no one else could or would. Through his warped lens, there’s shame in John McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, horror in Clinton’s use of a toilet, dysfunction in each bead of Marco Rubio’s sweat.

Those last two items underscore his bizarre obsession with, and objection to, body fluids. In early November, Daniel Lippman of Politico noted that Trump had “remarked on Rubio’s perspiration at least eight times in the last seven weeks.” On two of those occasions, Trump suggested that sweating would put Rubio at a disadvantage in negotiations with Vladimir Putin, who would find him too soggy.

The fluids of women in particular rattle Trump. When a lawyer who was questioning him during a 2011 deposition asked for a break so that she could leave the room and pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter, he was unhinged.

“You’re disgusting,” he berated her, according to a story in The Times earlier this year by Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder. Then he stormed out of the deposition.

More famously, he reflected on Megyn Kelly’s interrogation of him at the first Republican presidential debate by saying that “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

Clinton’s bathroom break — or, more precisely, Trump’s revulsion toward it — lies at the intersection of his misogyny and his fastidiousness. He’s a germophobe who once labeled himself “a clean hands freak,” called handshakes a “terrible custom” and said that the obligation to engage in them was one of the great curses of celebrity like his.

Even so, a kidney doctor I know was baffled by his latest outburst.

“Urine is sterile,” Maya Rao, an assistant professor of nephrology at Columbia University, pointed out. “It’s not ‘disgusting.’ Wow. I literally feel like I’m dealing with an elementary-school child and we’re talking about cooties.”

Trump is routinely — and rightly — tagged as a playground bully, but that phrase doesn’t do full justice to his arrested development, his potty mouth and the puerile nature of his vulgar bleats.

He taunts people for being unpopular, for being unattractive, for physical disabilities. The altitude of his debate vocabulary is only millimeters above “I know you are but what am I,” words that he’ll surely utter before this is all over.

On Monday he not only cringed at Clinton’s bathroom visit, he mocked her loss in the 2008 presidential election by substituting a phallic verb for the word defeated.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is your Republican front-runner. It’s probably too late to teach him manners, but maybe not to teach him biology: When you imbibe fluids, you excrete fluids, sometimes through sweat, often through urine.

And while “the typical person goes to the bathroom every three or four hours,” said Matthew Rutman, a urologist at Columbia, that frequency increases for someone who’s older, who’s enduring stress, who’s ingesting caffeine. In other words, for most presidential candidates.

Everybody pees. But it’s the rare man-child who finds that worthy of ridicule. And it’s up to voters: Is that the kind of exceptionalism you want in the White House?

 

By: Frank Bruni, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, December 23, 2015

December 23, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Hillary Clinton, War On Women | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Two Options”: Choose Trump Or Choose The Constitution

Press releases aren’t casual comments, open to misinterpretation. They are deliberate statements. And Donald Trump, celebrity demagogue, has officially crossed into unconstitutional territory.

There it is, in chilling black and white: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Whatever campaign aide pressed “send” on that press release should have felt what’s left of their civic soul drift away. They are complicit in something that’s an essential part of all strongman candidacies: thuggery and suspension of civil liberties.

The same is now true for any Trump supporter who still feels defiant pride in the belief that they are sending a message to Washington while rejecting suffocating conventions of politically correct culture.

No, you’re just backing a bully and a bigot.

Because the man who claims to want to make America great again does not represent our country’s best traditions; he represents some of the world’s worst.

The appeal of the autocratic strongman is so basic that the Founding Fathers worried that it would be the Achilles’ heel of democracy. The strongman candidate taps into fear and frustrations about the ineffectiveness of government. With rambling speeches that double as populist entertainment, they divide the world into us and them. And with blustery promises that would make a con man blush, they declare that everything will be better for you once they are in total control.

If you believe that, I’ve got a populist billionaire to sell you.

The thing about the strongman candidacies is that they are secretly weak. They feed off feelings of fear and inadequacy. That’s why they target minority rights first.

And that is what’s happening here. We’ve seen brushfires of fear sweep through this election season, with mayors calling for internment campsgovernors refusing refugees, and presidential candidates trying to win over the angriest inmates of the hyperpartisan asylum. This competition to connect with the reptile mind is beneath the country Lincoln once called “the last best hope of earth.”

This is a time for choosing between our best traditions and our worst fears. If you care about the Constitution, the time has come to take a stand against Trump. If you believe that unity in diversity is a defiant answer to extremism, the time has come to take a stand against Trump. And if you believe the integrity of the Republican Party is worth saving, the time has come to take a stand against Trump.

 

By: John Avlon, The Daily Beast, December 8, 2015

December 9, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Donald Trump, U. S. Constitution | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“He’s Shifted, Backflipped, And Outright Lied”: Christie; A Personality-Driven Candidate Makes Contradictory Campaign Promises

“Telling It Like It Is” — That’s Chris Christie’s campaign slogan, revealed the day before he formally announced his candidacy for president. It’s meant to evoke his brash persona, which is the biggest advantage he has in a crowded GOP field.

Christie is the 14th Republican candidate to announce, and is not expected to be the last. But with trailing poll numbers and an iffy record in New Jersey, where he is in his sixth year as governor, he will be a hard sell for GOP primary voters. It makes sense, then, that his announcement speech Tuesday morning touted bombast over bonafides, rhetoric over record, and a promise of a clean campaign that runs contrary to everything we know about the bellicose, secretive governor.

His speech opened with “We Weren’t Born to Follow” by Jersey rockers Bon Jovi, whose blue-collar, hard-won affirmations provided a fitting soundtrack to the event. (The announcement closed with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” by the same group.) Christie’s address was rooted in his humble origins, beginning with his choice of venue — the gymnasium of Livingston High School, from which he graduated in 1980 — and segued to his family history: a tale of blue-collar success and the American Dream realized, with Christie himself embodying the dreams of his parents and grandparents.

As in interviews he’s given, he was light on policy and the specifics of his accomplishments as governor. He mentioned “reforming tenure” and “reforming pensions and health benefits,” but didn’t delve into details, possibly because he has a messy and contentious track record on the subject. Other than a line about fixing the country’s “broken entitlement system” and “encouraging businesses to invest in America again” through deregulation, he didn’t say much about what his platform would be. (He may not have much to say, period, other than the word “reform.”)

What he did play up was his persona — imperious, truth-telling, no-nonsense Christie, who tells it like it is and has the ability to work with the other side to get things done.

“Both parties have failed our country,” he said, his voice rising. “Somehow now ‘compromise’ is a dirty word. If Washington and Adams and Jefferson believed compromise was a dirty word, we’d still be under the crown of England.”

Befitting the high-school setting, he drew parallels to high-school concerns — namely, popularity contests. He said that he was not running for prom king, and that respect was more important than love. “I am not looking to be the most popular guy who looks in your eyes every day and says what you want to hear,” only to turn around and do something else, he said.

And yet his critics allege that he’s done exactly that – on pension reform and gun legislation, Christie has shifted, backflipped, and outright lied, and always managed to modulate his style of confrontation and candor — to suit whatever position was most expedient at the time.

His pledge to run a campaign that wouldn’t “tear people down,” is quite a leap for a man who is widely known for his humorous, often nasty takedowns of others – YouTube is littered with videos of him calling out those who criticize him or ask what he thinks are silly questions, calling them “idiots” or “stupid” or worse.

And when he’s not belittling those asking the questions, Christie has been known to simply not answer them.

He promised a campaign free of pandering, spin, or focus group-tested answers: “You get what I think whether you like it or not or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while. A campaign when I’m asked a question, I will give the answer to the question asked, not the answer my political consultants told me to get backstage.”

Christie’s bravado about not being run by political operatives belies the fact that he’s a career politician who obviously knows how the game is played.

“I mean what I say and I say what I mean – that’s what America needs right now,” he said in his closing remarks. He promised to be the kind of candidate who would be open – in his eyes, heart, ears, and mind. Ironic, since his administration isn’t known to be forthcoming, and it’s hard to imagine that as president he’d be any more “open” than he is now.

Surrounded by supporters, against the backdrop of the American flag, and flanked by his family, Christie choked up as he recounted why he does what he does: “I wake up every morning knowing that I have an opportunity to do something great. That’s why this job is a great job and that’s why the president of the United States is an even greater job.”

 

By: Stephanie Schwartz, The National Memo, June 30, 2015

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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