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“What’s Worse Than Sex With Pigs?”: Donald Trump Has Gone Beyond Any Conceivable Limits

Write it off as “performance art” if you wish, but in many decades of watching politics I’ve certainly never heard anything quite like Donald Trump’s attacks on Ben Carson yesterday in a CNN interview and an Iowa appearance. AP’s Jill Colvin has the basics:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, brushing aside any recent claims of civility, has equated Ben Carson’s childhood “pathological temper” to the illness of a child molester, questioned his religious awakening and berated voters who support him.

“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” declared Trump during a rally at Iowa Central Community College. “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?” For more than an hour and a half Thursday night, the billionaire real estate mogul harshly criticized not only Carson, but many of his other competitors in the race for the GOP presidential nomination….

Trump previewed his attack line in an interview with CNN Thursday in which the businessman pointed to Carson’s own descriptions of his “pathological temper” as a young man.

“That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that,” Trump said. “That’s like, you know, I could say, they say you don’t cure — as an example, child molester. You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure the child molester.” Trump also said that “pathological is a very serious disease.”

In his book “Gifted Hands,” Carson described the uncontrollable anger he felt at times while growing up in inner-city Detroit. He wrote that on one occasion he nearly punched his mother and on another he attempted to stab a friend with a knife.

Trump went on to conduct a pantomine of the knife-stabbing incident to show the unlikelihood of ‘Carson’s account, but let’s don’t let him distract us from the unbelievable audacity of comparing a fellow presidential candidate with a child molester.

Most of you have probably heard the ancient and probably apocryphal story of Lyndon Johnson instructing his campaign manager during an early congressional race to spread a rumor that his opponent, a farmer, was in the habit of enjoying carnal relations with his barnyard sows. “Hell, Lyndon,” the campaign manager replied. “You can’t call him a pig-f*****!” Nobody’s going to believe that.” “Yeah,” LBJ supposedly replied. “But I want to hear the SOB deny it.”

Trump’s slur could be worse than that, especially given the crucial distinction that it wasn’t conveyed in a whispering campaign but right out there in public by the candidate himself.

Has Trump finally gone too far? That’s hard to say; if so, the “child molester” line could benefit Carson not only by stimulating sympathy for him but also distracting attention from another emerging story about Carson’s longtime close friendship and business partnership with a dude who pled guilty to felony charges of health insurance fraud.

Regular readers know I have no use for Ben Carson, and I’ve certainly accused him of saying and apparently believing crazy things. But this is beyond any conceivable limits.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 13, 2015

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Child Molestation, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , | Leave a comment

“No, Hillary Clinton Is Not Spiraling Downward”: Clinton Cast As Lyndon Johnson, Email Controversy Is Parallel To The Vietnam War

There’s no question which is the more interesting and dynamic primary campaign right now, which inevitably leads reporters covering the other one to search for something new to write about. And in a race where there’s an obvious (if not quite certain) nominee, there will always come a point at which the press will decide that that candidate is spiraling downward, the cloak of inevitability is torn and tattered, the campaign is in crisis, the whispering from party loyalists is growing louder, and the scramble is on to find an alternative before the fall occurs.

This is the moment we have come to with Hillary Clinton.

First there was the fevered speculation about Vice President Biden running against her, based on second-hand reports that Biden has had conversations about the possibility of running. I’m sure that Biden thinks about being president about as often as he brushes his teeth, but that doesn’t mean there’s an actual candidacy in the offing. But it isn’t just him. ABC News reports that “a one-time high-ranking political adviser to Al Gore tells ABC News that a group of friends and former aides are having a ‘soft conversation’ about the possibility that Gore run for president in 2016.” Gore himself is not interested, but who cares? People keep asking John Kerry if he’s going to jump into the race, no matter how many times he says no. Time magazine says Democrats are headed for a repeat of the 1968 election, with Clinton cast as Lyndon Johnson and her email controversy offered as a parallel to the Vietnam War (pretty much the same magnitude, right?).

Guess what: you put two or three former staffers to just about any major politician in a room, and they’ll have a “soft conversation” about how he really ought to run for president. If there’s one thing that stories like these should never be based on, it’s the mere fact that people who used to work for a particular politician would like that politician to run. Longtime political figures like Gore and Biden trail behind them a tribe of former staffers, advisers, fundraisers and the like, all of whom have entertained fantasies about either a job in the West Wing or at least a heady proximity to the most powerful person on earth. If you called up any of them, you could extract a quote that would make it sound like maybe, just maybe their guy might get in the race.

So right now there’s virtually no evidence that the Democratic field is going to expand beyond the current five candidates. And what about the idea that Clinton is in a drastic decline? Bernie Sanders has generated plenty of interest and some support, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Democrats are rejecting Clinton; if there’s any evidence that Sanders supporters won’t be perfectly happy to back her if and when she’s the nominee, I haven’t seen it.

If you look over the long term at Clinton’s favorability ratings, you do see a drop, but it’s not a huge one, and not the kind of precipitous decline you’d associate with a campaign in free fall. Her favorability is down substantially from when she was Secretary of State, but that’s a natural consequence of her becoming a partisan political figure again. A year ago her favorability was just under 50 percent, and now it’s around 41 or 42 — not what she’d like, surely, but hardly a crisis. As a point of comparison, at this time four years ago, Barack Obama’s job approval was in exactly the same place, 42 percent. You may recall who won the 2012 election.

As Nate Silver observes, whether or not the movement in the polls is terribly meaningful, reporters have an incentive to describe it as such, and then run with the implications:

Even if there were no Clinton scandals, however, she’d probably still be receiving fairly negative press coverage. The campaign press more or less openly confesses to a certain type of bias: rooting for the story. Inevitability makes for a really boring story, especially when it involves a figure like Clinton who has been in public life for so long.

Instead, the media wants campaigns with lots of “game changers,” unexpected plot twists and photo finishes. If the story isn’t really there, the press can cobble one together by invoking fuzzy concepts like “momentum” and “expectations,” or by cherry-picking polls and other types of evidence. The lone recent poll to show Sanders ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire made banner headlines, for example, while the many other polls that have Clinton still leading, or which show Sanders’s surge slowing down in Iowa and nationally, have mostly been ignored.

As a result, the flow of news that Americans are getting about Clinton is quite negative. Indeed, the steady decline in her favorability ratings seems consistent with the drip, drip, drip of negative coverage, as opposed to the spikes upward and downward that one might expect if any one development was all that significant to voters.

Perhaps Republicans will get their wish, and we’ll learn that Clinton sent an email ordering the attack on Benghazi to cover up the fact that she’s the leader of an Al Qaeda sleeper cell whose goal is to enslave all Americans into a satanic Alinskyite death cult. If that happens, I’m sure some other Democrats will declare their candidacies. The other possibility is that the race will have some ups and downs, Bernie Sanders may even win a primary or two, and in the end Clinton will prevail.

That’s not as dramatic a story as a reporter covering the campaign might like. But at this point it’s still the most likely outcome.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, August 17, 2015

August 20, 2015 Posted by | Democrats, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Roots Of The GOP’s Race Problem”: Half A Century Later, One Of Our Two Parties Is Still Dedicated To Fighting Against Civil Rights

Fifty years ago Thursday, Lyndon Johnson delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan and first uttered the words “great society.” Before you click away, this is not one of those columns soberly assessing his vision’s accomplishments and failures. Rather, I ask a different question: What if there had been no civil-rights revolution, and we’d taken conservatives’ advice?

This question struck me as I was reading through a Great Society-at-50 assessment by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Being an AEI scholar, Eberstadt is, as you’d imagine, quite critical of a lot of Great Society anti-poverty and other “transfer” programs. But he ungrudgingly acknowledges one point: With respect to the civil rights revolution, which obviously was a key part of the Great Society, ending legal segregation really did take a massive effort, one that could only have been led by the federal government.

The country was largely united behind this effort by 1964. But not conservatives. Of course, most of those conservatives were Southern Democrats. Not all of them, though. 1964 was the year of Barry Goldwater, when the nascent conservative movement that had started in the 1950s took control—for the time being—of the GOP. Today, Goldwater is a hero of the conservative movement. Here is how he thought segregation could be ended in the United States, in a quote from his famous 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative: “I believe that the problem of race relations, like all social and cultural problems, is best handled by the people directly concerned. Social and cultural change, however desirable, should not be effected by the engines of national power. Let us, through persuasion and education, seek to improve institutions we deem defective. But let us, in doing so, respect the orderly processes of the law. Any other course enthrones tyrants and dooms freedom.”

Incredible. “The people directly concerned.” That was the whole problem—they were handling it, in their inimitable way.  Those sheriff’s deputies turning dogs and fire hoses on children—why, they weren’t being racist at all. They were dethroning tyranny.

Goldwater had a long history of racist positions, going back to his opposition to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. The American people largely thought him a crazy man in 1964, and of course he lost to Johnson by titanic proportions. But let’s just say he’d won. What might have happened, had we followed his suggested path? How much longer would legal segregation have remained in place in the South? How much innocent blood would have been emptied onto Southern streets? We’d have had a race war on our hands that would have made Watts look like an episode of The Flip Wilson Show.

How long would Southern states have remained segregated? When would those states have integrated of their own volition, because it was the right thing to do? Hard to say. Probably once the citizens of Alabama came face to face with the reality that they couldn’t win a national championship with an all-white team. But that would have been, with a federal government sitting on the sidelines, something like 1974. In the meantime, we might well have had a second civil war.

But we didn’t, and we didn’t for one reason: government. The federal government stepped in and made integration happen. Only the federal government could have done it. The end of legal segregation remains America’s greatest triumph. And it didn’t take a village. It took a government.

I like the way today’s conservatives rush to point out, as they will in this comment thread, that most of the opposition to the civil rights bill was Democratic, as I noted above. There’s no denying that. But the more relevant point for today is this: Over the next few years, those people left the Democratic Party. They knew there was no place for them there.

In today’s GOP, however, the successors to the Richard Russells and Harry Byrds have been welcomed with open arms. And Barry Goldwater is not merely one guy among many guys they kind of like from the past. He is conservatism’s great hero! And 1964 is thought of as a shining moment in their movement’s history! And here we are, 50 years later, with the Republican Party looking as if it just might nominate for president a guy (Rand Paul) who once admitted that he’d have opposed the Civil Rights Act and basically was still against it (and Paul is one of the better Republicans on race!). Half a century, and society has changed for the better in amazing ways. But one of our two parties is still dedicated to fighting it.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, May 22, 2014

 

May 22, 2014 Posted by | Civil Rights Act, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Unraveling Of A Dream”: The Decisions Of The Past Quarter Century Have Severely Weakened Civil Rights Laws

The sign I carried at the March on Washington said: “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” I had just graduated from the University of Minnesota and was an intern at the State Department. A half century has not dulled the memory of that hot, muggy, August day. The civil rights movement had become a mighty river, and the vast, peaceful, exuberant crowd seemed to signify a new chapter in the American story. I did not know then that I would spend the next half century working on the dreams described that day, and that most of the time, it would be in the face of strong resistance.

Racial change was accelerating rapidly for the first time in the twentieth century. Before his assassination, President Kennedy had called for the most substantial civil rights law in 90 years. After, President Johnson embraced the cause and masterfully moved the Civil Rights Act through Congress. It was a time of immense possibilities and great accomplishments. But the people who spoke that August at the Lincoln Memorial were veterans of hard, long fights for racial justice and knew that no march or speech or even the laws that followed in the next years could eradicate all the institutions, practices, beliefs and fears that sustained inequality.

In the months and years that followed, urban riots, the black power movement’s repudiation of King’s dream, the corrosive impact of the Vietnam War on the Democratic coalition, and the Republican surge in midterm elections showed that change was going to be very tough. Politics were shifting from expansion of civil rights to rhetoric promising harsh action against “crime in the streets.”

Five years after the exuberant March, Martin Luther King was dead, and President Johnson, whose civil rights record was unequalled, had lost his own party’s support. His opponent in the 1968 election, Richard Nixon, shifted the party of Lincoln to embrace a “southern strategy” which opposed urban school desegregation, called for limiting voting rights regulation, promised to stop “activist” courts, and began to remake the GOP into a party whose strongest base would be in the resistant white South.

For civil rights workers, there were some amazing accomplishments as many pillars of the Southern system of state-supported apartheid fell and groups of historically excluded voters became part of a more democratic society. But there were also deep disappointments as the agenda of the Southern segregationist movement began to influence national politics, civil rights reform faltered in the north, the jobs agenda was not addressed, and the courts and agencies charged with implementing change were turned over to skeptics and opponents. There would not be another progressive appointed to the Supreme Court for 25 years, and the Court, reconstructed by conservative appointments, became an enemy of racial progress.

The last major civil rights act was passed 45 years ago. The growth of civil rights in the courts ended nearly four decades ago, and serious reversals began in the late 1980s. Whites now see a black president and some people of color living in white suburbs and assume that civil rights reforms are no longer necessary. The obvious inequalities that clearly still exist in poverty, incarceration, educational attainment, wealth and other major aspects of society are seen by most not as discrimination that justifies more civil rights change, but as problems that can be blamed on minority communities for failing to take advantage of opportunities, and on the teachers and others who work with communities of color.

The reality is that in a number of very critical dimensions of civil rights there are large and growing gaps that have often been perpetuated or even deepened by the conservative policies that were supposed to work in what they defined as a post-racial society. School segregation has now been increasing for almost a quarter century. Access to college degrees has become significantly more unequal, at a time when those degrees have become even more critical in shaping the destiny of young people. Incarceration of young men of color has soared and investment in giving them a real second chance has shriveled. Wealth, long extremely unequal, has become more so, in part as a result of the housing crisis that was worst for families of color. Mobility is declining as the public sector and major industry, which were more favorable to minorities, have declined. We have gone through the most dreadful economic reversal in 80 years with no large vision of social and economic change.

In celebrating the March on Washington we usually communicate exactly the wrong lessons. Students recite the “I Have a Dream” speech as if the speech solved the problem of discrimination and made the nation fair. The truth is that the March didn’t win any rights. Decades of civil rights struggles and political battles broke the back of Southern apartheid, but there never was any similar sweeping victory against the northern and western forms of discrimination. Government has been in control of opponents of King’s dream most of the time since his assassination. We celebrate Brown and the great civil rights decisions, but the public knows virtually nothing about the major decisions of the past quarter century that have severely weakened civil rights laws, authorizing a return to segregated schools and discriminatory local election restrictions. We don’t talk about the disappearance of the war on poverty, the federal jobs program, and most of the programs meant to fix and rejuvenate our cities. There is no serious national discussion about the incredible gaps by race or the truly devastating impact of imprisonment jobless young men. There is no serious discussion about how to help collapsing central cities which have now often been left to poor black and Latino families where government intervenes only to protect bondholders as city institutions collapse.

We have to get serious about facing the realities of our time, as the marchers who came to Washington did a half century ago. We need a new dream for this century, a new social movement, and new tools to transform a polarized and divided society into an equitable multiracial community.

 

By: Gary Orfield , The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Published in Moyers and Company, July 24 July

July 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Past Isn’t Dead, It Isn’t Even Past”: Can Republicans Do The Right Thing On The Voting Rights Act?

Now that the Supreme Court has severely weakened the Voting Rights Act, the president and Senate Democrats must revise it to restore its power to protect minority voters. The critical question is: What will the Republicans do?

As the Republican House leaders consider the way forward, they would do well to consider the decisions of the past two generations of top Republican legislators, without whom the Voting Rights Act would never have existed.

Most students of history know that President Lyndon Johnson’s mastery of the legislative process – and his huge Democratic majorities – were key to the bill’s original passage. But few know that the final bill was written in the office of the Republican minority leader, Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois.

President Lyndon Johnson feared a Southern filibuster might defeat the bill. To prevent a filibuster, two-thirds of the Senate would have to move the bill to a final vote, and achieving this would require Republican votes. So Johnson turned to Dirksen. “…[ Y]ou come with me on this bill,” Johnson told him, “and two hundred years from now school children will know only two names: Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen.”

At first, Dirksen was reluctant, but when peaceful demonstrators were viciously attacked by Alabama state troopers and vigilantes on what became known as Bloody Sunday, he was enraged.

Now, he told associates, he was willing to accept “revolutionary” legislation. He began to work privately with administration officials to fine tune the bill. In meetings to draft the bill, Dirksen always sat next to acting Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, leaving no doubt who was in charge. Later some would call the legislation the “Dirksenbach bill.” Dirksen cosponsored the bill, defended it in floor fights with Southern opponents, and delivered the Republican votes to end debate.

Similarly, when the Voting Rights Act faced procedural death in the Senate Judiciary Committee during its 1982 reauthorization, Republican Senator Bob Dole broke the logjam. “The works around here get gummed up pretty easily,” he later said. Wishing to broaden the Republican Party to include blacks and Hispanics, Dole met privately with Democratic supporters of the bill and civil rights lawyers in order to fashion a compromise, which included extending Section 5, the bill’s preclearance provision, for twenty-five years. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

It is hard to see John Boehner, the current Republican Speaker of the House, or Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader, playing similar roles. Both voted for extending the act in 2006 when it was enthusiastically signed into law by President George W. Bush, but now their party has changed.

In 2010, the Tea Party movement rose to power, sweeping away moderates and even old-school conservatives in primaries, on the way to helping Republicans win control of the House of Representatives and both legislative bodies and governorships in 26 states. Many in the Tea Party believed that President Barack Obama owed his election to massive voter fraud, despite all evidence to the contrary. Quickly, Republicans began passing a series of laws they felt would increase the integrity of elections, but that served mainly to make voting more difficult for many of President Obama’s core supporters: African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans; the poor; students; and the elderly or handicapped. These included the creation of voter photo-ID laws, measures restricting registration and early voting, and laws to prevent ex-felons from exercising their franchise.

It is hard to tell what impact these state laws have had so far, in part because many of the worst of them were overturned, thanks to litigation brought by the Justice Department, the NAACP and others under the Voting Rights Act. But now the act’s power has been substantially curtailed by the Supreme Court, and many Tea Party Republicans and fellow travelers are less likely to want to restore the act than to put in place more restrictions to secure the vote even if (perhaps especially if) they mean some eligible citizens will be disenfranchised.

Republican reactions to the Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act are not encouraging. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who attended the commemoration of Bloody Sunday in Selma last March, did call for bipartisan action to reform the act, but it appears that demography means destiny. The Republican Party now represents the white minority voter, many of whom sat out the 2012 presidential election. Reaching out to African Americans, and especially to Hispanics, is counterproductive, insists long time conservative activist, Phyllis Schafly. “There’s not the slightest bit of evidence that [Hispanics] will vote Republican,” she noted in May.”The people the Republicans should reach out to are the white voters…who did didn’t vote in the last election and there are millions of them.”

If present trends continue, a number of Republicans will obstruct any new efforts to strengthen and restore the Voting Rights Act in Congress. In doing so, they will be acting less like Dole, Dirksen, Reagan and Bush, and more, in an epic role reversal, like the Southern Democratic white hard core who opposed civil rights and voting rights in the 1950s and 1960s. Sadly, the congressional battles fought then look likely to be repeated in years to come. William Faulkner was right: “The past isn’t dead,” he once wrote. “It isn’t even past.”

 

By: Gary May, Salon, June 29, 2013

July 1, 2013 Posted by | Republicans, Voting Rights Act | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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