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“The Perfect Target For Republicans”: Clinton Should Have Exposed Sanders When She Had A Chance

Here’s my basic problem with Bernie Sanders. To put it bluntly, once a Trotskyite, always a fool. Personal experience of Sixties-style left wing posturing left me allergic to the word “revolution,” and the humorless autodidacts who bandy it about. The Bernie Sanders type, I mean: morally superior, never mistaken, and never in doubt.

I’ll never forget the time in 1970 that several “radical” colleagues my wife had invited for dinner denounced our record collection as racist. Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Flatt and Scruggs. Never mind that we also owned B.B. King, Lightning Hopkins, Beethoven and British rock albums. A taste for country music made us, pardon the expression, politically incorrect.

Also professionally doomed. I needed to resign before they fired me. I had no interest in either of the academic community’s ruling passions: Marxist sentimentalism and real estate.

How Bernie missed becoming an English professor at some picturesque New England college, I cannot understand.

Anyway, here’s where I’m going with this. To me, the Clinton campaign’s high-minded refusal to expose Senator Sanders has been a big mistake, needlessly allowing this unelectable crank to pose as a serious candidate far too long—and enabling Bernie and his impassioned supporters to translate the old GOP anti-Hillary playbook into left-wing jargon.

In consequence, Clinton has found herself in a one-sided fight against her own degraded image. Some of it is  her own damn fault. Accepting preposterous fees to speak to Wall Street bankers and then keeping the speeches secret is no way to run for president.

But realistically, Sanders lost any chance of prevailing after he lost New York and Pennsylvania badly. Word has yet to reach him. Meanwhile, it has become common to see Clinton described as “evil,” a “war-monger” and worse on social media, while the Sanders campaign whines that it was cheated. The damage to progressive chances in November from this kind of poisonous rhetoric is hard to overstate.

In The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky puts it this way: “The guy who’s going to end up with about 300 fewer pledged delegates and more than 3 million fewer votes doesn’t get to say ‘you beat me, but you must adopt my position.’ It’s preposterous and arrogant, which of course means he will do it.”

Has leading the Children’s Crusade gone to Sanders’ head? No doubt. However, my larger point is that he’s always been this guy, and Democrats have been needlessly polite about it.

Is it impolite to point out, like Slate’s Michelle Goldberg, that in “1980, Sanders served as an elector for the Socialist Workers Party, which was founded on the principles of Leon Trotsky. According to the New York Times, that party called for abolishing the military budget. It also called for ‘solidarity’ with the revolutionary regimes in Iran, Nicaragua, Grenada, and Cuba; this was in the middle of the Iranian hostage crisis.”

No, that’s not objectionable because it’s undeniably true. No doubt Sanders has an explanation for such heterodox, albeit politically poisonous views. Fine — so why hasn’t he been forced make it?

In 1976, Bernie urged the University of Vermont student paper to “contrast what the young people in China and Cuba are doing for themselves and for their country as compared to the young people in America…It’s quite obvious why kids are going to turn to drugs to get the hell out of a disgusting system or sit in front of a TV set for 60 hours a week.”He wrote stern letters to the FCC protesting shows like “Gunsmoke” and “I Love Lucy.”

Ancient history? Perhaps. But also 30 years after George Orwell’s epochal novel Animal Farm, and around the same as Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” was winding down after giving millions of Chinese youngsters a swell chance to serve their country in slave labor camps.

As I say, show me an American Trotskyite, and I’ll show you a damned fool.

But again, shouldn’t Bernie have had to explain it?

Let’s pass over Sanders’ newspaper columns fantasizing about rape and suggesting that cervical cancer is caused by sexual frustration.

“Basically,” writes Will Saletan “if you were designing the perfect target for Republicans—a candidate who proudly links socialist economics to hippie culture, libertinism, left-wing foreign policy, new-age nonsense, and contempt for bourgeois values—you’d create Bernie Sanders.”

With so distinguished a record of crackpot opinions, maybe it shouldn’t surprise that Bernie has also misjudged the Democratic electorate. Salon’s Amanda Marcotte is correct: Sanders didn’t lose because establishment Democrats cheated. He lost because his Thomas Frank-influenced theory that strong majorities of white working class voters would respond enthusiastically to left-wing economic populism turns out to be wrong. The “revolutionary” turnout Bernie kept predicting never materialized.

He swept the white-bread college campuses and the cow states. End of story. The urban proletariat? Not so much. Who can be shocked? Campus radicals have been trashing “establishment” Democrats and fantasizing about a working class insurrection all Bernie’s life.

The revolution remains imaginary.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 1, 2016

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Scandalous Matters That Are Real”: If He Shouts ‘Rape’, Donald Trump Should Unseal His Divorce Records

Evidently Donald Trump believes that his campaign can accomplish with an Internet video what Kenneth Starr failed to do with $50 million and a platoon of private detectives and FBI agents: Bring down Bill and Hillary Clinton by dredging through moldy muck. Somehow he doesn’t seem to understand his own vulnerability on scandalous matters that are real rather than invented.

The problem Ken Starr confronted during six years as independent counsel was neither a shortage of resources nor a lack of support from the political media, most of which seemed as eager to ruin Clinton as the right-wing Republican prosecutor. No, the trouble with Whitewater, Travelgate, and Filegate — so dubbed by scandal-addled reporters — was that substantive, plausible evidence of wrongdoing simply didn’t exist. The Lewinsky affair was all too real, but most Americans didn’t believe that sex, or even lying about sex under oath, merited a costly, hypocritical, and rabid investigation, let alone a presidential impeachment.

Aside from Lewinsky, the “Clinton scandals” each ended the same way: Despite all the blaring headlines, ranting editorials, grand jury dramatics, and talk-radio thunder, Starr never prosecuted the President and First Lady because he couldn’t sustain an indictment. The Clintons fully deserved the presumption of innocence that the press, the prosecutors, and the Republicans in Congress refused to afford them.

The hollowness of all those old pseudo-scandals is why the Clintons are still standing — even as ace sex detective Starr is ousted from the presidency of Baylor University in disgrace for covering up sexual assault by members of the school’s football team.

Yet Trump, under the tutelage of Nixon-era dirty trickster Roger Stone, apparently believes that he can resuscitate even the most discredited old tales to smear the Clintons – and especially Hillary, the Democrat he is likely to face in November.

It is typically insolent for Trump – the most dubious character ever to win a presidential nomination in this country – to bring up the failed Whitewater real estate venture. The Clintons lost money on that deal, ripped off by a huckster named James McDougal whose grandiose style of double-dealing was just a small-time, Southern-fried version of a Trump scam. Will the casino mogul still be talking about Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster when he goes to court to defend the con game known as “Trump University”?

Actually, both Trump and Stone know that Whitewater is too arcane. So this sordid pair quickly turned to Starr’s sex files, with a misogynist twist: The sexual accusations against Bill Clinton should be blamed on Hillary. They’re confident that if they shriek “rapist” and “enabler” loudly enough, nobody will realize that their attack has no factual basis.

Only Juanita Broaddrick and Bill Clinton know what, if anything, ever happened between them, and their accounts are directly contradictory – except that Broaddrick has offered at least two versions, under oath, that contradict each other. It is important to recall that Starr immunized Broaddrick and thoroughly investigated her revived rape accusation against Clinton during his impeachment probe in 1998. He found the evidence that she provided “inconclusive,” and didn’t include her case in his impeachment brief. (There are other reasons to wonder whether Broaddrick told the truth that are explored in The Hunting of the President by Gene Lyons and me. Our free e-book,The Hunting Of Hillary, is available here.)

Naturally, Trump is promoting Broaddrick’s additional claim that Hillary Clinton, only weeks after the alleged rape by her husband, sought to intimidate the Arkansas nursing home owner into remaining silent. But as with all of the sensational charges lodged by Broaddrick over the years, it isn’t easy to know what to believe about her charge against Hillary – because, again, she has also said, and may even have sworn, precisely the opposite.

Nearly a year after she testified before the independent counsel, Broaddrick was interviewed on NBC News Dateline by correspondent Lisa Myers. After tearfully describing her alleged encounter with a violent Clinton, she tried to explain why she had denied being raped for almost 20 years and – in a moment that Trump has made relevant again – stated firmly that nobody had ever tried to intimidate her.

From the Dateline transcript of February 24, 1999:

Lisa Myers: Did Bill Clinton or anyone near him ever threaten you, try to intimidate you, do anything to keep you silent?

Juanita Broaddrick: No.

Myers: This has been strictly your choice.

Broaddrick: Yes.

Did Broaddrick ever tell Starr or his investigators about Hillary’s alleged intimidation of her? Having received a grant of immunity against prosecution for perjury, did she tell them that Hillary – also a target of Starr’s broad-ranging investigation – had feloniously tried to “silence” her? Or did she tell the Office of Independent Counsel — as she later told Myers on NBC — that nobody had ever done so?

The next reporter to interview her might want to ask those questions.

Meanwhile, perhaps the moment has come when Donald Trump, blustering rape accuser, should respond to the rape accusations lodged against him by his estranged first wife Ivana – in a sworn deposition — during their bitter 1990 divorce, which a New York court eventually granted her on grounds of “cruel and inhuman treatment” by Trump. Journalist Harry Hurt III first recounted the ugly details of Trump’s allegedly very violent assault on Ivana –which involved ripping out her patches of her hair as well as sexually violating her – in his book The Last Tycoon.

Although Ivana sought to withdraw her accusation after the Daily Beast reported it last year, Hurt told me there is much more to be learned from the Trump divorce papers, which are under seal. So here is a suggestion for Trump, who still refuses to release his tax returns as American presidential candidates have done routinely for decades.

If he wants to accuse other people of rape and intimidation, Trump should unseal his divorce papers and let voters assess his standing to make those charges. The evidence gathered about Bill Clinton by the independent counsel’s sex probe is public record. If Trump has nothing to hide, he should let the public view the evidence of what he did to his first wife – and then they can judge him accordingly. If he doesn’t have the guts to disclose those scathing documents, then maybe he should shut up about the Clintons’ marriage, which endures.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, May 27, 2016

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Bill and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ivana Trump | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Kasich Is Sometimes His Own Worst Enemy”: An Amateur, Especially When Talking To And About Women

In a year in which Republican voters have gravitated towards amateurs, John Kasich offers extensive political experience. The Ohio Republican has run two winning gubernatorial campaigns, which followed nine successful congressional campaigns and some state legislative races in one of the nation’s largest states. A rookie he isn’t.

And yet, Kasich has an unfortunate habit of sounding like an amateur, especially when talking to and about women. Slate’s Christina Cauterucci reported today:

At a Watertown, New York, town hall on Friday, John Kasich advised a female college student to steer clear of “parties where there’s a lot of alcohol” to keep from getting raped, assaulted, or sexually harassed.

His comment came after a first-year student from New York’s St. Lawrence University asked the GOP presidential candidate and Ohio governor, “What are you going to do in office as president to help me feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape?”

The governor initially responded by talking about confidential reporting mechanisms and access to rape kits, before telling the young woman, “I’d also give you one bit of advice: Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

The problem with such a response should be obvious. If a woman goes to a gathering and gets assaulted, it’s insane to think it’s her fault for having gone to a party where people were drinking. The solution is for men to stop committing sex crimes; encouraging women to make different choices in their social habits badly misses the point.

As news of his comments spread, Kasich turned to Twitter to make clear his belief that “only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that’s the assailant.”

In the broader context, there are a couple of angles to keep in mind.

The first is that incidents like these keep coming up on the campaign trail. Remember the time Kasich asked a woman, unprompted, “Have you ever been on a diet?”

In October, a college student tried to ask Kasich a question about undocumented immigrants, but when the young woman raised her hand at a forum, the governor told her, “I don’t have any tickets for, you know, for Taylor Swift or anything.”

According to the report from the college newspaper, the Republican presidential candidate told another young woman at the event, “I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties.”

A few months later, Kasich told a Virginia audience that, during one of his early statehouse races, women “left their kitchens” to support him.

Remember, this guy has literally spent decades on the campaign trail, honing his communications skills with the public.

The other angle is that Kasich hasn’t just made insulting comments about women, the governor has taken a series of policy steps that undermine women’s health options as part of a conservative culture war.

I realize that in the GOP’s 2016 field, Kasich is seen as the “moderate” Republican with broad appeal, but given the circumstances, I’m afraid that probably says more about the govenror’s rivals than his own qualities.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 15, 2016

April 19, 2016 Posted by | John Kasich, Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Below Par”: Donald Trump’s Ardent Courtship Of Bill And Hillary Clinton

Nobody should be surprised that the Washington press corps, perennially obsessed with Bill Clinton’s real and imagined private life, would seize upon any chance to revisit that favorite topic, especially if that means mimicking Donald Trump. They’ve never quite gotten over the departure in disgrace of their favorite pornographer, the former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

What the political press mostly fails to explore is the overall absurdity of Trump’s new Bill-bashing gambit. They may wonder aloud how a misogynist bully can accuse anyone else of “sexism” or “abusing women,” but if Trump got the same treatment as Clinton, the media would remind us every day of his vile attacks on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, his distasteful remarks about his suppressed desire to “date” his daughter Ivanka, and his alleged battering and marital rape of his former wife Ivana.

Like so much of Trump’s loud talk, his disparaging remarks about Bill and Hillary Clinton have scant credibility, at least to anyone who knows anything about him. Whatever he claims to think of them now, he has spent years sucking up to the Clintons in the most abject way. His one-sided courtship of the former First Family goes well beyond Trump’s ridiculous insistence that they attend his wedding to his third wife in Florida.

Although he now claims to deplore Bill Clinton’s misbehavior, Trump awarded the former president a free membership at his Trump National Golf Club, just a few miles from the Clinton home in Westchester County. Still a member to this day, Clinton has long enjoyed all kinds of special privileges at the club, where he maintains a locker in a special VIP section near those of former Yankees manager Joe Torre and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Not only has Trump boasted repeatedly about Clinton’s membership and displayed pictures of them together, but on Clinton’s 65th birthday a few years ago, he cleared the course so that the Clintons, including Chelsea and her husband, could play a leisurely foursome there.

Gullible wing-nuts who admire Trump and hate Clinton won’t like hearing any of these facts, of course. But the impeccably far-right Washington Free Beacon told the story not so long ago, illustrating it with fun photos. (Evidently the Beacon story was designed as a “racist” smear of Clinton, but that fizzled.)

This silly episode illustrates once more why only the very dimmest Americans believe that Trump “tells it like it is” and “says what he really thinks.”

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, January 2, 2015

January 3, 2016 Posted by | Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Cop Used Whiteness As His Weapon To Rape Black Women”: He Thought His Badge And His Race Would Protect Him

“Is this the first time you sucked a white cock?” Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw asked as he bent over his victim. “You’re gonna have to give me head or ass or go to jail.”

Holtzclaw was found guilty Thursday night on 18 of 36 counts, including first-degree sexual assault. He now faces up to 263 years in prison.

What’s more remarkable than a police officer being convicted of crimes on duty is that Holtzclaw is “white” and all but one of his 13 known victims were black, including a 17-year-old runaway and a fiftysomething grandmother.

Technically, Holtzclaw is biracial: born to a white veteran police officer and a Japanese mother—but, make no mistake, Holtzclaw claimed to be white.

Don’t take my word for it. Holtzclaw is the most reliable witness to his own life.

He used that “whiteness” as a weapon to ridicule and demean his black victims (“Bet you never ducked white dick,” he told one). He wanted them to know that he was white. He wanted them to know that they were black and therefore powerless. He wanted them to know that nobody—not police, not investigators, not the media, not a jury—would believe them. He wanted them to know that his badge and his “whiteness” placed him among a privileged class to which they did not and could not belong; that it meant he could subjugate them with all manner of defilements with impunity.

The fact that this jury was able to sort through the physical evidence and direct witness testimony to return guilty verdicts on 18 counts is an indication of measurable progress. Historically, all-white juries have almost always meant that there would be no justice for a black defendant or victim. Together, this jury panel spent 45 hours weighing, questioning, and deciding. As the hours stretched on, many began to believe that Holtzclaw might walk away a free man.

It almost never got this far, though. Despite other accusers who previously stepped from the shadows, it wasn’t until a grandmother went to police the night she was assaulted that the wheels of justice began to turn. She testified that she was on her way home from a game of dominoes with friends, when Holtzclaw pulled her over and forced her to perform oral sex. She thought he was going to kill her, she told the courtroom.

Ultimately, the jury believed her and seven other victims. The message from the prosecution team to the victims was clear: Black women’s lives matter.

“We’re going to ask the judge to make sure that this defendant never sees the light of day,” District Attorney David Prater told CNN. “And we’re going to ask him to run consecutive, every count.”

However, five of his victims left the courtroom without justice. We do not know if they were the same women who were forced to come to court in jailhouse shackles. We do not know if they were among those allegedly engaged in prostitution or drug possession. But what we do know is the jury did not believe them—at least not beyond a reasonable doubt.

All too often, how much justice one receives depends largely on the social strictures of wealth, race, and gender. In that regard, even a predator like Holtzclaw probably thought he was walking into a county courthouse holding a pocket full of aces. In his estimation, he was everything they were not: middle class, white, and male.

Based on his own words, Holtzclaw embraced some of the most unfortunate aspects of that privilege. Despite his mixed racial heritage, he bought into and used that sense of supremacy to sexually violate his victims and the oath he swore to serve and protect them. In the end, likely based in part on that, he believed he would get away with it. He was counting on this jury to see his victims the same way he saw them—black, poor, and without value.

He wagered the house on that. The jury called him on the bet.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, December 11, 2015

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Black Women, Daniel Holtzclaw, Police Abuse, Violence Against Women | , , , , , | 4 Comments

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