Posted: August 8, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Psychopaths in charge, Surreality, U.S. Politics | Tags: but her emails, Donald Trump, Fantasyland, Federal climate change report, Hillary Clinton, Kurt Andersen
I’m having another one of those days when having a corrupt, moronic, megalomaniacal monster as “president” is just too much to bear. Why is the universe torturing us like this? Is there any hope for the future?
One positive sign is that people of conscience in the government continue to leak information that Trump would prefer to hush up. Vanity Fair summarizes reporting from The NYT and The Guardian: Damning Federal Climate Report Leaked Before Trump Can Suppress It.
According to a government report that was leaked to The New York Times, average temperature in the U.S. have risen rapidly since 1980, and recent decades have been the hottest in the past 1,500 years. “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” reads the congressionally mandated report, which was drafted by scientists spanning 13 federal agencies. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the paper, and it is now awaiting approval from the Trump administration.
According to the Times, scientists fear that the Trump administration could either alter or suppress the findings, and for good reason. The notion of the president’s team signing off on such a report seems about as plausible as the president having read the pope’s manifesto. Its assertion that “many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change” jar inconveniently with Trump’s instinctive assumption that global warming is actually a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.
And The Guardian obtained some internal administration emails that demonstrate Trump’s efforts to censor scientific research and results
It must be irritating for the White House, then, that just as the Times broke their story, the Guardian obtained a series of e-mails that implicate his administration in a bout of hoax-perpetuation, too. Staff at the Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) have been told to get inventive with their use of language, and are being advised to replace the term climate change with the phrase “resilience to weather extremes,” according to the outlet. Bianca Moebis-Clune, director of soil health at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (N.R.C.S.), a U.S.D.A. unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, helpfully circulated a concise encyclopedia of other, non-synonymous terms. For example, “reduce greenhouse gas” could, and should, be replaced by “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.” “Sequester carbon” is no longer wholly appropriate, so staff should now refer to “build soil organic matter.”
“We won’t change the modeling, just how we talk about it—there are a lot of benefits to putting carbon back in the sail [sic], climate mitigation is just one of them,” she wrote in an e-mail to staff on February 16, referencing advice from a colleague from the U.S.D.A.’s public affairs team to “tamp down on discretionary messaging right now.” Still, her note was not all negative. References to economic growth, emerging business opportunities in the rural U.S. and “improved aesthetics” should be “tolerated if not appreciated by all.” In another e-mail to senior employees on January 24, just days after Trump was inaugurated, Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief for programs at the N.R.C.S., said, “It has become clear one of the previous administration’s priority is not consistent with that of the incoming administration. Namely, that priority is climate change. Please visit with your staff and make them aware of this shift of perspective within the executive branch.” He added that “prudence” should be used when referring to greenhouse gases, and that existing work on air quality regarding these gases could be stopped.
More from The Washington Post: White House reviewing new report that finds strong link between climate change, human activity.
The draft report, which has undergone extensive review, estimates that human impact was responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010.
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate changes,” the report notes. “There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”
That counters what Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry have said.
It remains unclear how the White House — which announced in June that it would pull out of the Paris climate accord — will handle the report. Many scientists are looking at it as a test case of the administration’s attitude toward science in general.
“The current situation will provide an acid test of whether the Trump administration is open to hearing the scientific truth about climate change or is so much in the thrall of fossil fuel interests that they are fixated on hiding the reality from the public,” Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, said Monday night.
The Climate Science Special Report is a key element of the National Climate Assessment, which, according to the 1990 Global Change Research Act, is supposed to be issued every four years. However, the assessment has come out only three times. The 2000 assessment, finalized under President Bill Clinton, came under attack once George W. Bush took office. Bush administrationofficials declined to cite it in subsequent federal reports, arguing that aspects of the data analysis were flawed.
According to the WaPo, the White House has had a copy of the report for “several weeks.”
Kurt Andersen has a new book coming out on September 5 called Fantasyland: How American Went Haywire; and The Atlantic has published an excerpt from it as its September cover story: How America Lost Its Mind. It’s a long article, and I haven’t finished it yet. Here are the first several paragraphs:
When did america become untethered from reality?
I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”
Whoa, yes, I thought: exactly. America had changed since I was young, when truthiness and reality-based community wouldn’t have made any sense as jokes. For all the fun, and all the many salutary effects of the 1960s—the main decade of my childhood—I saw that those years had also been the big-bang moment for truthiness. And if the ’60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.
Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.
Continue reading at The Atlantic link.
One more hopeful bit of news is that Trump’s base is shrinking. Yesterday Trump tweeted the “fake news” that he wants people to believe. The Washington Post: No, Donald Trump’s base is not ‘far bigger and stronger than ever before.’
President Trump is clearly rankled by the notion that his political support is slipping, pushing back against the idea during a barrage of tweets Monday from his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where aides said he is having a “working vacation.” [….]
In fact, as his overall approval rate has sunk, some of the president’s core supporters have soured on his performance, polls show. A Quinnipiac University poll last week found 23 percent of registered voters “strongly approve” of Trump’s handling of his job, down from 29 percent who felt that way during his first week in office. Even white voters with no college degree — one of the demographics that backed his candidacy most enthusiastically — disapprove of how Trump is handling his job by 50 percent to 43 percent.
His support among Republicans is still around 75%, but the trend is downward. You can read the Trump tweets at the WaPo link, if you wish.
I know there’s much more happening, but I’m burned out at the moment. I’m hoping the return of Rachel Maddow tonight will give me something to hang onto.
What stories are you following today?
Posted: September 3, 2016 Filed under: morning reads, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, journalism
I spent most of yesterday in a state of extreme anger. As I’ve been writing for a long time now, I’m fed up with the media attacking Hillary and ignoring real questions about Donald Trump’s dishonesty and corruption. I’m hoping when I drive back to Massachusetts next week, I’ll find some peace and quiet all alone in my car. It usually works that way.
Late last night, lots of people on Twitter were having fun photoshopping a new Trump ad that showed three of his children (Where is Tiffany?). For the first time all day I was able to laugh. I’m going to use the best ones to illustrate this post. Here’s the original tweet from Donald Trump Jr. that started it all.
The corporate media spent the last day before Labor Day reveling in the release of the FBI’s notes from their interview with Hillary Clinton. Sadly for the New York Times and the rest of the national media circus, there was once again nothing to support their ravening desire to prove Hillary is a corrupt liar. Too bad, so sad. Oh, they tried their best to make her look bad, but with very little success.
It’s been a very bad couple of weeks for the corporate media. Now that we have twitter and blogs, they can’t escape criticism when they screw up, and they’ve screwed up royally. It must be very difficult for these “journalists” who like to think of themselves as so much smarter and more savvy than the rest of us to see their flawed stories and their own pompous attitudes mocked on Twitter. But why is it so hard for them to just admit when they’re wrong?
John Stoer at The Washington Monthly tries to understand Why Political Journalists Can’t Take Criticism. Stoer begins by discussing the AP’s claim last week that half of the people who met with Clinton as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation Donors. It was simply ridiculous, but the AP still refuses to correct their false tweets about the horrible article. Then he offers a more recent example:
On NPR this morning, “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep asked Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake if he shares Clinton’s view on immigration. According to Trump, Inskeep said, his opponent favors “open borders” and “amnesty.”
This is an example of a statement that’s technically accurate, but entirely misleading. And dangerous. Yes, Trump has said, time and again, that Clinton wants “open borders” and “amnesty.” It’s also true that this claim exists only the realm of fantasy. Indeed, in an interview — just yesterday — NPR’s Mara Liasson told Inskeep those claims were false.
Journalists, I believe, are beholden to the truth. If they are unwilling to pay deference to the authority of the truth, even when that deference conflicts with the profession’s other guiding principles, there isn’t much point in being a journalist….
I got in touch with Inskeep on Twitter this morning to make him aware of his mistake. (I do not subscribe to the childish claim, as Glenn Greenwald does, that the American media is in the tank for one or the other candidate). It was an honest mistake. So I asked: Will you be offering a clarification?
I didn’t expect Inskeep to reply. When he did, it was not a good faith exchange between journalists about the concrete facts of the matter. He offered instead a series of bewildering deflections, obfuscations, and, to be frank, playing dumb.
Go over to The Washington Monthly to read the exchange.
Of course there are some journalists who are doing important investigative work. One is David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post who has spent the past year trying to find evidence of Trump’s charitable giving. He wrote the story that Dakinikat referenced yesterday about Trump’s illegal gift (essentially a bribe) to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi while she was considering joining a lawsuit against Trump University.
Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general.
Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, an official at Trump’s company said, after it was revealed that Trump’s charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida’s attorney general.
The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time, Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.
Earlier this year, The Washington Post and a liberal watchdog group raised new questions about the three-year-old gift. The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the IRS — noting that, as a registered nonprofit, the Trump Foundation was not allowed to make political donations.
The Post reported another error, which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.
In that year’s tax filings, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump’s foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi’s political group. In fact, Trump’s foundation had not given the Kansas group any money.
The prohibited gift was, in effect, replaced with an innocent-sounding but nonexistent donation.
Trump’s business said it was unaware of any of these mistakes until March, when it heard from the watchdog group and The Post.
Anyone who believes that this wasn’t a bribe that was deliberately hidden from the IRS is a hopeless fool. Twitter has been filled with comments on this story and questions about why no one else in the media is covering it, but I’ve seen no serious responses from corporate media reporters.
Another investigative reporters who has been doing important work is Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine. Sherman is the author of a book on Roger Ailes, and he has spent month investigating the story of Ailes’ sexual abuse of women at Fox News. Sherman’s stories ultimately led to Ailes leaving the right wing network and going to work for Donald Trump. Here’s the latest blockbuster story from Sherman: The Revenge of Roger’s Angels. How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media.
It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history. Ailes built not just a conservative cable news channel but something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers. That the place turned out to be rife with grotesque abuses of power has left even its liberal critics stunned. More than two dozen women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, and what they have exposed is both a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.
It began, of course, with a lawsuit. Of all the people who might have brought down Ailes, the former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson was among the least likely. A 50-year-old former Miss America, she was the archetypal Fox anchor: blonde, right-wing, proudly anti-intellectual. A memorable Daily Show clip showed Carlson saying she needed to Google the words czar and ignoramus. But television is a deceptive medium. Off-camera, Carlson is a Stanford- and Oxford-educated feminist who chafed at the culture of Fox News. When Ailes made harassing comments to her about her legs and suggested she wear tight-fitting outfits after she joined the network in 2005, she tried to ignore him. But eventually he pushed her too far. When Carlson complained to her supervisor in 2009 about her co-host Steve Doocy, who she said condescended to her on and off the air, Ailes responded that she was “a man hater” and a “killer” who “needed to get along with the boys.” After this conversation, Carlson says, her role on the show diminished. In September 2013, Ailes demoted her from the morning show Fox & Friends to the lower-rated 2 p.m. time slot.
Carlson knew her situation was far from unique: It was common knowledge at Fox that Ailes frequently made inappropriate comments to women in private meetings and asked them to twirl around so he could examine their figures; and there were persistent rumors that Ailes propositioned female employees for sexual favors. The culture of fear at Fox was such that no one would dare come forward. Ailes was notoriously paranoid and secretive — he built a multiroom security bunker under his home and kept a gun in his Fox office, according to Vanity Fair — and he demanded absolute loyalty from those who worked for him. He was known for monitoring employee emails and phone conversations and hiring private investigators. “Watch out for the enemy within,” he told Fox’s staff during one companywide meeting.
Taking on Ailes was dangerous, but Carlson was determined to fight back. She settled on a simple strategy: She would turn the tables on his surveillance. Beginning in 2014, according to a person familiar with the lawsuit, Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’s office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along. “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation. “I’m sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to,” he said another time.
It’s a long, fascinating story. Read all the gory details at the New York Magazine link.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?
Posted: August 6, 2016 Filed under: morning reads, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: harassment, Hillary Clinton, journalists
Woman reading, Jean-Baptiste Emile Corot
For the first time since she announced her candidacy for POTUS, the media spend two days noticing that Hillary Clinton is winning in the national and state polls and with many experts–including Republicans–who know what it takes to be President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. That ended yesterday after Hillary answered questions from “journalists” at a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Two of the “journalists” asked about her emails and about why everyone supposedly hates her.
The reviews were scathing. Here’s one of the hundreds of negative reactions, this one from Slate: Hillary Finally Gave a Press Conference. It Was a Master Class in Obfuscation.
In Friday’s press questioning, the trouble began when she was asked her first question about her private email server and recent statements about that server which independent fact checkers have labeled as categorically untrue. Clinton’s responses here—and her previous responses to questions about the truthfulness of past statements—are so overly legalistic and convoluted that they are difficult to even explain. But here’s a shot.
Last month, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asserted to Clinton that FBI Director James Comey said her public statements about which documents on her private email server were classified and which were not were untrue. In actuality, Comey declined to address the truthfulness or lack of truthfulness of those statements in Congressional testimony on the matter. But in announcing his investigation into her server—which cleared Clinton of any wrongdoing—Comey implied that she had either misled the American public about her poor handling of material she should have known was classified information, or been incompetent in doing so. “Even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it,” he said. Clinton had previously claimed: “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time. I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified.”
In response to Wallace’s question claiming that Comey had said she was not telling the truth, Clinton said this: “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”
painting by Gerrit Albertus Beneker
But the “fact checkers” say she’s lying. And of course this is so much more important than the idea of Donald Trump having access to the nuclear codes or that he is likely being manipulated by Vladimir Putin. It makes no difference to the media that Hillary did nothing criminal, that she will not be indicted, and never was even in danger of being indicted. Her emails are the only “issue” that matters to those in the DC media bubble. Read the rest of the article at the link if you are interested in intense parsing of every word that comes out of Hillary’s mouth.
Here’s Charles Pierce: Somehow Hillary Clinton Made the E-mail Mess Even Worse Today. Trump is imploding. Hillary should be soaring. What’s wrong?
At least Pierce admits that most voters don’t give a flying fuck about her emails. They voted for her by the millions in the primaries and she is way ahead in the polls. This should be a dead issue. But it will never die. Pierce also draws attention to another question that Hillary was forced to answer yesterday–in so many words, “why does everyone hate you?”
…she sat for questions, which is the closest she’s come to an actual press conference in over 200 days, something that’s been the topic of insufferable whining from our elite political press. Said whining was represented ably by Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post, who prefaced his question by being fairly snotty.
“We encourage you to do this more often with reporters across the country, especially those news organizations that travel the country with you wherever you go.”
Pierce left out O’Keefe’s actual question which was a demand for her to answer why people think she’s so untrustworthy, and how can she possibly lead the nation when that’s the case. Gee, I wonder why Hillary chooses not to give press conferences?!
But Pierce has no mercy on Clinton for her response the the email question. He quotes part of her answer and then writes:
That is not within an area code of satisfactory.
Hell, it’s barely in the neighborhood of English. It is legalistic gobbledegook. You can turn an ankle trying to get from premise to conclusion in that tangled thicket of weaselspeak. It ought not to matter at this point, and it never has mattered all that much to me, but, Lord above, if HRC and her people ever wonder why her trust numbers are so abysmal, they ought to read back her answer to that question.
That’s the way you talk when the mule you sold somebody died on the way home.
Remember, folks, we are talking about emails after it has become clear that Hillary did nothing different from previous Secretaries of State and thousands of other government officials whose emails have not been examined. Furthermore we’re talking about it after the case has already been decided in Hillary’s favor. Finally, James Comey (a Republican) is not the final arbiter on what is or should be classified, and he went against DOJ rules when he spoke publicly about the case.
painting by Ivan Kramskoi
This morning, the New York Times actually attacked Clinton for putting her hand on her heart when she is speaking!
When Hillary Clinton told her audience at a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday “Here’s what I believe,” she punctuated those words with not just a vocal flourish but a physical one. Up went her hand, placed over her heart.
It’s a gesture unfamiliar from her past campaigns, but it’s a favorite this time around. In Columbus, Ohio, and Omaha, Mrs. Clinton spoke of her late father, and up went her hand, placed over her heart.
At the Democratic National Convention, when she took the stage to wild applause, she cued the audience on how grateful, moved and humbled she felt by putting her hand to her heart, once, twice, then a third and fourth time.
It’s a subliminal message of sincerity that some language experts consider contrived.
Bill McGowan, a communications coach and chief executive of Clarity Media Group, calls the hand-on-heart motion “the gesture du jour.” He said he has noticed that other politicians have adopted the habit, and he doesn’t think it’s entirely artless.
“Voters are more and more wise to the fact that speeches are carefully constructed and vetted, yet at the same time there is so much demand for a higher level of authenticity,” Mr. McGowan said. “Candidates are looking for anything that makes them seem like they are speaking genuinely from the heart, and not from a thoroughly vetted key message document.”
Oh my God! Putting her hand on her heart? She’s the Devil! Has anyone ever written an article like this about Donald Trump’s hand gestures?
I wish I could stop caring so much about the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton, but I can’t. I hate what they are doing to her. Anyway here are some antidotes to the media hatred.
Read more of Melissa’s tweets here.
Peter Daou also posted a stunning and insulting CNN interview with Hillary in 1996 that shows how far back the media harassment of her goes.
In his piece on the video, Daou quotes Melissa McEwan:
The thing we have to understand about these interviews is that they’re not about trying to establish facts about Hillary’s fundamental truthfulness or integrity. They’re about an attempt to hurt her on camera and capture her pain. The persistent exploration of negative feelings toward Hillary is about shaming her, about replicating the visceral responses many people have to women seeking power.
Finally, here’s Peter Daou on the “hand on the heart” story: NYT Chastises Hillary for Putting Her Hand on Her Heart — What’s Next, Breathing?
In the past week, like every week before it, the national media have worked overtime to convince the public that Hillary is a liar, continuing their interminable obsession with her State Dept. emails. Even while she’s leading her unhinged opponent by wide margins, they continue to characterize her as a loser….
Now we get this inane and insulting piece from the New York Times rehashing the stale “Hillary is inauthentic” narrative….
Got it? She’s “contrived.” According to our national media, nothing Hillary says or does is real. She’s just a cold, robotic, scheming, lying ambition machine.
Back in March of 2015, I identified the dominant anti-Hillary frames — see if you recognize them:
• CALCULATING (Scheming, crafty, manipulative)
• SECRETIVE (Suspicious, paranoid, uncommunicative)
• POLARIZING (Divisive, alienating)
• UNTRUSTWORTHY (Corrupt, deceitful, dishonest, unethical)
• OVER-AMBITIOUS (Will do or say anything to win)
• INAUTHENTIC (Disingenuous, fake, unlikable, insincere)
• INHUMAN (Machine-like, robotic, abnormal, cold)
• OVER-CONFIDENT (Inevitable, defiant, imperious, regal)
• OLD (Out of touch, represents the past)
Now think about the profoundly misplaced priorities of the NY Times (and other major media outlets) whose singular mission is to mangle Hillary’s public image even as we face the possibility of a Trump presidency.
It boggles the mind.
Exactly what do there “journalists” want Hillary to do? Would they be satisfied if she got down on her knees on stage and cried for mercy? I doubt it. Do they want her to withdraw from the race for POTUS and cede the presidency to Donald Trump? Do they want her to be flogged in the the public square and then tarred and feathered? I honestly don’t think anything would satisfy them.
Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a great weekend!
Posted: March 30, 2016 Filed under: 2016 elections, Afternoon Reads, Diplomacy Nightmares, Foreign Affairs, Surreality, the GOP
Well, I’m holding down the fort today! Both BB and JJ are off surfing samsara which is my little way of saying they’re dealing with a series of life’s little unpleasantness. That seems to be the order of the day. There’s a war on life’s pleasantries out there! The majority of us are losing the fight.
So, I watched the Republican Townhall last night. One hour with each of them is an hour wasted in Bizarro. Ted Cruz is a sociopath. He dodged all questions choosing to spin a series of anecdotes with no relation to the question asked by Anderson Cooper or the participants. The fact he thought these anecdotes charming given his self congratulatory manner–when they definitely were not–says a lot about his inability to even fake being human for short periods of time. He’s positively reptilian. Donald Trump is walking, savage ID. He has no conception of anything remotely related to the rest of the world that hasn’t been directly in his face and interests. The sentence I bolded below pretty much sums the Trump exchange.
During a CNN town-hall forum Tuesday night, Donald Trump reiterated the falsehood that Sen. Ted Cruz was responsible for spreading around an image of his wife Melania in a nude pose. “I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi,” Trump said of an image he retweeted clearly meant to make her look unattractive compared to his wife. “Come on,” Anderson Cooper responded. “I thought it was fine,” Trump insisted. Continuing to deny culpability, he said “I didn’t start it.” Cooper sensibly retorted, “That’s the argument of a 5-year-old.”
That sentence pretty much sums up the behavior of most of the politicians associated with the Republican Party who basically have not been doing their actual jobs for some time. They won’t examine or confirm SCOTUS nominees. They continually vote to get rid of the ACA when they know the bill will go no where. They are obsessed with Planned Parenthood based on outright lies. They deny the impact and causes of Climate Science. It’s the behavior of a 5-year-old that doesn’t get his way.
The unraveling of the Republican party is not good for this country. Candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are signs that something has gone supremely wrong. Kasich appears to be the only sane one left unless you count Rubio who seems to be angling to hold on to his delegates in some weird hope that a brokered convention will anoint him. Both may be sane. Neither are presidential material. Rubio is dumb and Kasich wanders that ethereal wasteland between being pragmatic and preaching radical religious right sermons worthy of any common religious fanatic.
It is a full on war between the Republican Establishment and the white, working class base it has used as a foil to push through bad tax policy since the Pied Piper of Hollywood spun a tune to romance them into the Republican fold. Ronald Reagan’s dogwhistles and tales of a white utopia, a city on the hill, enticed them to vote Republican for a few decades. Dubya’s uncanny ability to sound homespun and create wars to appeal to their patriotic nature may have held them for awhile. But now they are unleashed with wide open eyes and a distaste of all things Romneyesque. The want real brutes. Karl Rove no longer can manipulate their lesser angels with empty promises and heads. They want the real deal.
If you listen to establishment gurus, you’d be led to believe that the Republican primary voter revolt was birthed by the governance of President Obama, creating fertile ground for the emergence of one Donald Trump. This fairy tale version of reality casts Trump as the villain who has swept in to capitalize on voter frustration with Obama’s alleged weakness, lawlessness and rampant liberalism.
The villain must be stopped or the Republican Party will be destroyed. Or so we are told.
The old saw that you have to first acknowledge that you have a problem to solve the problem applies here. What the GOP “leaders” refuse to accept is that Trump is not the problem. They are.
The dissatisfaction among a large cohort of GOP voters is directly attributable to their unhappiness with a party that they believe does not represent their interests. In exit polls, high percentages of GOP voters registered displeasure with their leadership. In Tennessee, 58% of Republican voters said they felt “betrayed” by their leaders, as did 47% in New Hampshire, 52% in South Carolina and 54% in Ohio.
Those who feel betrayed have been most likely to vote for Trump. Trump has been a particular draw to white working-class voters who feel left behind economically. Such voters have been treated with dismissal and outright contempt by the GOP establishment even as this group has become more critical to Republican success. Pew reported in 2012 that “lower-income and less educated whites … have shifted substantially toward the Republican Party since 2008.”
In other words, their peasants are revolting. Given this, how can the party’s elite make their way through a brokered convention when the party itself is so positively unmoored? Its main policy goal is tax avoidance for the very wealthy. After that’s accomplished, they throw bits and pieces of radical religious bills at the wall to see what will stick while railing against minorities, women, and immigrants.
The modern Republican Party has devolved into a tax avoidance scam for rich people. The scam is a masterpiece of psychological manipulation, in which the racial, cultural and economic anxieties of (mostly white) voters are exploited, in order to get those voters to support policies that transfer ever-greater percentages of wealth from themselves to the top 0.1 percent.
It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Everything else – the “culture wars,” the continual hysteria about terrorism, the non-stop rhetoric about how the mainstream media, the universities, the scientists, and basically the rest of the modern world are all biased against conservatives – it’s all just so much noise, designed to solve the tricky problem of how to get ordinary people to support economic policies that make them poorer and rich people richer.
You couldn’t come up with a better illustration of this principle than the ongoing GOP campaign to eliminate the estate tax. Last year the House voted to get rid of it, and a majority of Republican senators have pledged to do the same.
The Republican propaganda machine has waged a multi-decade war against the estate tax, which it has rebranded the “death tax.” Because of these efforts, the tax has been watered down to the point where, under current law, only a tiny group of wealthy people will ever pay any estate taxes at all.
But of course that isn’t enough, since it means that some taxes still have to be paid on truly enormous inheritances, and protecting the economic interests of people who have a net worth in the eight, nine, 10 or 11 figures is the contemporary GOP’s entire reason for being.
Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
The emergence of Trump as a leading Republican candidate is something found incredulous by enabling media types who have been equivocating between Democrats and Republicans for some time. They’ve refused to hold any one accountable for outright lies.
One of the most amazing things to see is the panic in our allies as major Republican candidates want to dump NATO, dally with war crimes and nuclear weapons, and ignore treaties and trade agreements. That’s how equivocal Republicans and Democrats really are from the view here on USA Main Street. The one thing that’s been fairly consistent in American governance is the respect for pre-existing foreign agreements and diplomacy. Each President–even while holding different visions of the country–basically finds value in remaining on a stable and predictable path in foreign affairs. The Republican historical area of expertise used to be foreign policy until now.
Lobbyists in Washington say they are being flooded with questions and concerns from foreign governments about the rise of Donald Trump.Officials around the globe are closely following the U.S. presidential race, to the point where some have asked their American lobbyists to explain, in great detail, what a contested GOP convention would look like. There is nothing conservative about Trump or the Republican party these days other than their tax avoidance schemes. They are a party of insurgents and radicals hellbent on an agenda to turn back modernity.
The questions about Trump are “almost all-consuming,” said Richard Mintz, the managing director of Washington-based firm The Harbour Group, whose client list includes the governments of Georgia and the United Arab Emirates.
After a recent trip to London, Abu Dhabi and Beijing, “it’s fair to say that all anyone wants to talk about is the U.S. presidential election,” Mintz added. “People are confused and perplexed.”
The Hill conducted interviews with more than a half-dozen lobbyists, many of whom said they are grappling with how to explain Trump and his unusual foreign policy views to clients who have a lot riding on their relationship with the United States.
“We’re in uncharted territory here,” said one lobbyist with foreign government clients who asked not to be identified.
“The questions coming from the international community are not different than the things, categorically, we’re asking ourselves,” said Nathan Daschle, the president and chief operating officer of the Daschle Group, a firm run by his father, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).
“There’s an added level of bafflement because this is not the United States that they’ve been living with for so long,” Daschle said. “This is not the image the United States has been projecting.”
The questions about Trump often concern his foreign policy positions.
The businessman has boasted about keeping his options open on many crucial foreign policy questions, including on trade, troop-sharing agreements and the U.S. posture toward China.
“I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability,” Trump told The New York Times in an interview published over the weekend.
A second lobbyist who represents countries in Latin America, Asia and the Muslim world said answers like that have made Trump a “wild card” for leaders around the world.
“Nobody knows whether he believes anything of what he says because he’s changed his position so many times,” the lobbyist said.
Some of Trump’s comments — especially about Mexico, Muslims and trade with countries such as Japan and China — have also angered foreign leaders.
A third lobbyist for governments in Asia said part of his job has been telling countries how to react to some of Trump’s controversial remarks.
“If you come out and blast Donald Trump — for the people who are going to vote for Donald Trump, that could make them like him more,” the lobbyist, who also represents foreign companies with a large presence in the U.S., said he has told foreign leaders.
But it’s not just Trump making these comments. Cruz has suggested we carpet bomb all areas around ISIS including areas containing huge numbers of civilians leading our military leaders to suggest that they’ve trained their soldiers to disobey illegal and unconstitutional orders. Kasich discussed redefining NATO in the debate last night. There is nothing moderate or rational about any of these men. But, how out of line are these outrageous views with Americans? Polls still find that Americans approve of torture even though it violates our nation’s commitment to the Geneva Convention. Chances are that this poll reflects a huge number resident in the Republican base.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a level of support similar to that seen in countries like Nigeria where militant attacks are common.
The poll reflects a U.S. public on edge after the massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino in December and large-scale attacks in Europe in recent months, including a bombing claimed by the militant group Islamic State last week that killed at least 32 people in Belgium.
Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, has forcefully injected the issue of whether terrorism suspects should be tortured into the election campaign.
This can only be the result of years of letting our political discourse sink to bottom feeder levels through vehicles like Fox News, right wing radio and blogs, and astroturf organizations like the Tea Party. Former SOS Clinton indicated earlier this month that she was receiving tweets from World Leaders offering any help they can to her in the effort to defeat Trump in the general. Its hard to imagine Trump, Cruz or Kasich receiving tweets from any one on that level even as one of them caroms towards their party’s nomination.
Hillary Clinton says foreign leaders are privately reaching out to her to ask if they can endorse her to stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States.
“I am already receiving messages from leaders,” Clinton told an Ohio audience at a Democratic presidential town hall on Sunday night.
“I’m having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump.”
Trump has demonstrated virtually no knowledge of foreign policy. How dangerous is his world view?
He’s suggested using economic warfare to halt China’s territorial moves in the South China Sea and raised the prospect of a fundamental reconsideration of nuclear doctrine by musing about South Korea and Japan acquiring their own atomic arsenal. He says the U.S. should boycott Saudi Arabian oil if the kingdom doesn’t send ground troops to fight ISIS and believes NATO is an anachronism. And he warns he will renegotiate bedrock free trade deals, a prospect that could send serious reverberations through the global economy.
“It is rattling the windows of foreign ministries all over the world,” said CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen, who has worked for a string of Democratic and Republican presidents.
Trump has gone to great lengths over the past week to explain his foreign policy views, which are often criticized as overly vague. He’s participated in extensive interviews with The Washington Post
and The New York Times
and delivered a speech — notable because it was carefully pre-written — to the leading pro-Israel group in Washington. He’ll have another opportunity to address foreign policy Tuesday night during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The interviews reveal Trump as someone who is just as willing to flout the foreign policy establishment as he is the GOP elite. His statements appear to fly in the face of the longstanding assumption underlying U.S. foreign policy — that supporting allies financially, diplomatically and militarily promotes a global system of unfettered free trade, democracy and stability that is overwhelmingly in the national interests of the United States.
As the embodiment of this truculence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, today finding favor among Republicans desperate to derail Donald Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination, stands alone. From the very outset of his candidacy, Cruz has depicted himself as the one genuinely principled conservative in the race. And in comparison to Trump, who is ideologically sui generis, Cruz does qualify as something of a conservative. When it comes to foreign policy, however, Cruz offers not principles but—like Trump himself—raw pugnacity.
Cruz has gone out of his way to deride the pretensions of democracy promoters, mocking “crazy neocon invade-every-country-on-earth” types wanting to “send our kids to die in the Middle East.” On the stump, Cruz advertises himself as Reagan’s one-and-only true heir. As such, he endorses “the clarity of Reagan’s four most important words: ‘We win, they lose.’” Upon closer examination, Cruz is actually advocating something quite different: “We win, they lose, then we walk away.”
The key to “winning” is to unleash American military might. “If I am elected president, we will utterly destroy ISIS,” Cruz vows. “We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion…. We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know…if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant.”
Yet rather than Reaganesque, Cruz’s prescription for dealing with Islamist radicalism represents a throwback to bomb-them-back-to-the-Stone-Age precepts pioneered by Gen. Curtis LeMay and endorsed by the likes of Barry Goldwater back when obliteration was in fashion. The embryonic Cruz Doctrine offers an approximation of total war. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out!” he promises with evident enthusiasm.
Nowhere, however, does his outlook take into account costs, whether human, fiscal, or moral. Nor does it weigh the second-order consequences of, say, rendering large parts of Iraq and Syria a smoking ruin or of killing large numbers of noncombatants through campaigns of indiscriminate bombing. In essence, Cruz sees force as a way to circumvent history—a prospect that resonates with Americans annoyed by history’s stubborn complexities.
Kasich has survived so far by keeping his head down and winning his home state of Ohio. But now that he is one of only three candidates remaining in the race, the former congressman and current Governor of Ohio will face the kind of media scrutiny that he has managed to avoid since he announced his candidacy. It will show that he is an outright mediocrity.
Kasich served on the House Armed Services Committee for eighteen years, where his strong beliefs on fiscal responsibility and budget cutting earned him the moniker of the “cheap hawk.” He accomplished next to nothing, apart from limiting the procurement of B-2 bombers.
During his long tenure in Congress, Kasich casted a number of votes on war-and-peace issues, voting for the Gulf War in 1991 but opposing Ronald Reagan’s decision in 1983 to send U.S. Marines to Lebanon for a peacekeeping mission. He reminds voters during town hall meetings and debates that the United States should get out of the business of nation-building and should stay far away from manufacturing democracies around the world. But he also floated the preposterous idea that the way to stop ISIS in its tracks is for the next president to create a new government agency to “beam messages around the globe” about the American credo of liberty.
At times, it is difficult to pinpoint what kind of foreign policy doctrine a potential President John Kasich would follow. He’s asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has gotten away with far too much during the Obama administration, including his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, his military and economic support to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, and his decision to send fighter jets into Syria to strengthen the defenses of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “[I]t’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose,” Kasich told radio host Hugh Hewitt during a December presidential debate. “They’ve gotten away with too much in this world, and we need to stand up against them . . . in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.”
On other issues, like the nuclear agreement with Iran, Kasich has oscillated between common sense (“You’re going to rip it up and then what?”), depressed resignation (“I’m sort of sick to my stomach about it because . . . Iran’s going to get a ton of money”) to defiant opposition (“if I were president, I would call them and say, I’m sorry, but we’re suspending this agreement”). With respect to the Islamic State, Kasich has emphasized coalition building with Arab allies similar to George H.W. Bush’s alliance building during the Persian Gulf War—a safe position that is just muscular enough to pass muster with Republican voters, but benign enough that it wouldn’t raise the eyebrows of realists who call the party home.
The looming question is whether John Kasich is hawkish enough for the GOP foreign policy establishment, a club that has been heavily influenced by neoconservative thinking for the past fifteen years.
At least “outright mediocrity” wont scare the children. It won’t scare ISIS either.
It’s been incredible to watch Bernie Sanders with his generalities and overreaching promises dodge serious foreign policies questions through out the Democratic Debates. He tends to fall back on insisting that his vote against the Iran Resolution just says it all. It doesn’t, however. His generalities fall way short of Clinton’s recall of names and her credentials as the nation’s chief foreign policy negotiator. I have to say that I learn a little bit more about the entire world each time she steps to the podium and takes a foreign policy question or makes a foreign policy speech.
Imagine what the debates and town halls in the general will look like when she takes on one of these candidates from the party in total disarray. My guess is that entire countries will be cheering for her.
I should close here but I’d like to share this with you so you can see that she will be our candidate for the fall despite the bleating and chest thumping of the cult of Bern. Here’s Nate Silver’s estimate of Bernie’s long shot path from today. It is beyond improbable that he can get 988 more pledged delegates and romance the Super D’s. Yes, there is one more campaign out there in Bizarro and it’s not a Republican one.
If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might look at the map and see some states — Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Montana and so forth — that look pretty good for Sanders, a lot like the ones that gave Sanders landslide wins earlier in the campaign. But those states have relatively few delegates. Instead, about 65 percent of the remaining delegates are in California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland — all states where Sanders trails Clinton in the polls and sometimes trails her by a lot.
To reach a pledged delegate majority, Sanders will have to win most of the delegates from those big states. A major loss in any of them could be fatal to his chances. He could afford to lose one or two of them narrowly, but then he’d need to make up ground elsewhere — he’d probably have to win California by double digits, for example.
Sanders will also need to gain ground on Clinton in a series of medium-sized states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and New Mexico. Demographics suggest that these states could be close, but close won’t be enough for Sanders. He’ll need to win several of them easily.
None of this is all that likely. Frankly, none of it is at all likely. If the remaining states vote based on the same demographic patterns established by the previous ones, Clinton will probably gain further ground on Sanders. If they vote as state-by-state polling suggests they will, Clinton could roughly double her current advantage over Sanders and wind up winning the nomination by 400 to 500 pledged delegates.
The nation and the world should breathe a collective sigh of relief when Clinton wins the nomination and the presidency. The alternatives to Hillary are the stuff of national nightmares. In fact, they would be a global nightmare and the majority of the US and the world knows it.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: November 23, 2015 Filed under: 2016 elections, morning reads, Republican politics, Republican presidential politics, Surreality | Tags: Ben Carson, Ben Nevers, Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, John Bel Edwards, Louisiana
Hello Monday and Sky Dancers!!!
I’m beginning to think we should offer free psychotropics and mental health screenings for folks voting Republican these days. You might consider putting a candy bowl of them out for your crazy uncle and cousins still voting Republican as a holiday treat. Tolerance and displays of so much delusion should definitely be on the radars of what’s left of our mental health systems. It’s hard to know where to start but the fact that Donald Trump is the leading presidential candidate and basically doing it by taking pages and policies out of Hitler’s playbook is one example worthy of discussion.
However, let me start locally with Slum Dog Governor Piyush Jindal who has decided he needs to take a “victory lap” around the state before he fades into oblivion. You might think I’m kidding on this so I’m going to include some quotes from the state’s major newspaper for good measure because I am not kidding. He’s finally retreated from the cornfields of Iowa. We’re expecting a huge budget deficit mid term thanks to his stupid accounting tricks and tax giveaways. A Blue Dog Democrat–John Bel Edwards–supported by many Republicans is set to follow him into the statehouse.
Jindal wants to travel the state for some local accolades. Good luck with that Governor! All but about 20% of us can’t stand the sight or sound of you.
With only weeks remaining in office, Gov. Bobby Jindal has returned home to try to shore up his Louisiana legacy after his presidential campaign ended unsurprisingly with him headed to a new home in Baton Rouge, rather than the White House.
A statewide tour and press releases touting his accomplishments might be too little too late to win kind thoughts from the folks in Louisiana, where his approval ratings have dropped to record lows.
The term-limited Republican is seeking to exit the governor’s mansion in January with Louisiana residents remembering his economic development wins and education overhaul, rather than prevailing criticisms that he put his national ambitions over the state’s needs.
Jindal dismissed such criticisms in the press conference he held in Baton Rouge, a post mortem of sorts, after scrapping his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“We’ve continued to work every single day that I’ve been governor to work hard to move our state forward. I’m proud of the result,” he said. He added: “I think that I will be leaving our state better off than we were eight years ago.”
Yes indeed! Well, about that leaving the state better that it was eight years ago part …
Now that his campaign is officially dead, however, it’s worth highlighting Jindal’s record as governor of Louisiana. This is what the man did. This is what he accomplished. This is what he leaves behind. And this what he should be remembered for.
- He entered office with an $865 million surplus and he will exit with a $1.6 billion deficit.
- Funding for higher education has been cut by more than 80 percent, and the entire system is experiencing a fiscal crisis.
- Funding for youth services has been cut by 40 percent.
- Funding for Veterans Affairs programs has been cut by 69 percent.
- The Department of Environmental Quality has been cut by 96 percent (in a state with a rapidly eroding coastline).
- He rejected a Medicaid expansion in order to protest Obamacare, and thousands of low-income Louisianans remain without health care as a result.
- Louisiana has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation; the highest diabetes-related death rate; the highest rate of death from breast cancer; the third highest rate of cancers deaths overall; and the eighth highest rate of teenage pregnancy.
- He rejected $300 million of federal stimulus money (one his favorite talking points at the time), despite Louisiana’s underfunded and crumbling infrastructure.
- He issued a symbolic executive order that defended discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.”
- He sold out his state to protect BP against legitimate lawsuits. (Side note: Jindal’s brother is a lawyer for the firm representing BP).
- He held a massive “prayer rally” on the state’s flagship campus, a rally that promoted his presidential campaign and distributed materials blaming gay people for hurricanes and natural disasters.
- He signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allowed creationism to be taught in science courses at public schools.
There are countless other examples of Jindal’s failures, but this list is fairly illustrative of his career as Governor of Louisiana. This is what he did in order to pitch himself as a fiscally responsible, small government conservative in GOP primary states. It explains why 70 percent of Louisianans now disapprove of the job he has done. And it explains why he won’t be missed and why the Republican gubernatorial candidate following him, David Vitter, has tried unsuccessfully to run away from Jindal’s record.
The stench of Jindal’s administration will linger for years in Louisiana, and everyone here knows it. His presidential campaign was and is a punchline, but his governorship was a moral and political failure, and a tragedy for thousands of Louisianans. If he’s ever elected again for public office, I can assure you it won’t be as a Louisianan.
I’d say Sean Illing’s list is a pretty decent capsule of the wreckage. I’d have to add that you can put many a sad face on how bad life has gotten with Jindal administration including mine.
We have a kinda sorta Democrat now whose first act was to appoint the former Republican State Senator responsible for the Creationism in public schools disguised as science to be his chief of staff. His transition team is remarkably full of Republicans. However, he still says that the Medicaid expansion is priority one and it could be one of the reasons why Nevers got the job. I’m trying to be optimistic here. You can hold my hand if you want to help.
“The expansion of health care coverage for working families is among the highest priorities. It’s something I’ve been working on for three years, and I never once during this campaign shied away from that particular issue,” Edwards said during a news conference with reporters in New Orleans. “So we are going to expand the Medicaid program in Louisiana. We’re going to do it as soon as we possibly can and as responsibly as we possibly can.”
The strongest signal yet of Edwards’ commitment to Medicaid expansion is his appointment of state Sen. Ben Nevers to be his chief of staff. Nevers has been one of the foremost advocates of Medicaid expansion in the Legislature, at times offering tearful testimony as he pleaded with colleagues to expand the federal program to cover people who aren’t paid enough to purchase their own insurance.
Asked about the significance of Medicaid expansion to the working poor, Nevers said, “it means life or death to many people across this state.”
“There are over 242,000 people without medical insurance in this state who go to work everyday; who have been dependable employees,” Nevers said. “It would mean the opportunity for them to have insurance for them and their families. I can tell you that there’s many people across this state who’ve suffered tremendously because we’ve refused to expand Medicaid.”
When asked what it means to him personally, Nevers said, “It means a tremendous amount to me.
“As you know, I filed bills the last three years to expand Medicaid and could not get them out of the Senate or the House,” Nevers said. “It’s been a very frustrating experience because I know we’re sending dollars to Washington D.C. that we refuse to take back in our own state. Now that’s just ludicrous.”
This state is among the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick. Things certainly could not get much worse.
People here and all around the country certainly do not trust their governments. Is this the real legacy of Reagan’s dementia and eagerness to poor shame?
A year ahead of the presidential election, the American public is deeply cynical about government, politics and the nation’s elected leaders in a way that has become quite familiar.
Currently, just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time,among the lowest levels in the past half-century. Only 20% would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected officials are held in such low regard that 55% of the public says “ordinary Americans” would do a better job of solving national problems.
Yet at the same time, most Americans have a lengthy to-do list for this object of their frustration: Majorities want the federal government to have a major role in addressing issues ranging from terrorism and disaster response to education and the environment.
And most Americans like the way the federal government handles many of these same issues, though they are broadly critical of its handling of others – especially poverty and immigration.
A new national survey by Pew Research Center, based on more than 6,000 interviews conducted between August 27 and October 4, 2015, finds that public attitudes about government and politics defy easy categorization. The study builds upon previous reports about the government’s role and performance in 2010 and 1998. This report was made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the survey from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The partisan divide over the size and scope of government remains as wide as ever: Support for smaller government endures as a Republican touchstone. Fully 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they prefer a smaller government with fewer services, compared with just 31% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.
Yet both Republicans and Democrats favor significant government involvement on an array of specific issues. Among the public overall, majorities say the federal government should have a major role in dealing with 12 of 13 issues included in the survey, all except advancing space exploration.
There is bipartisan agreement that the federal government should play a major role in dealing with terrorism, natural disasters, food and medicine safety, and roads and infrastructure. And while the presidential campaign has exposed sharp partisan divisions over immigration policy, large majorities of both Republicans (85%) and Democrats (80%) say the government should have a major role in managing the immigration system.
But the partisan differences over government’s appropriate role are revealing – with the widest gaps on several issues relating to the social safety net.
That last bit certainly shows up in the Trumpettes and his followers who don’t appear to understand that offering up the same policies as Hitler isn’t a good thing.
Only about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners see a major role for the federal government in helping people get out of poverty (36%) and ensuring access to health care (34%), by far the lowest percentages for any of the 13 issues tested. Fully 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the government should have a major role in helping people out of poverty, and 83% say it should play a major role in ensuring access to health care.
Moreover, while majorities of Republicans favor a major government role in ensuring a basic income for people 65 and older (59%), protecting the environment (58%) and ensuring access to high-quality education (55%), much larger shares of Democrats – 80% or more in each case – favor a large government role.
So what explains the Republican base’s fascination with some one touring the country touting a book written on the Constitution that believes the Constitution was written by Thomas Jefferson? Is this the result of whackadoo Texans controlling the nation’s textbook content or deliberate, delusional ignorance?
It’s a common misconception that Thomas Jefferson participated in drafting the U.S. Constitution in 1787. But as Republican presidential candidate and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson points out in his latest book, “A More Perfect Union,” Jefferson was “missing in action,” serving in Paris as minister to France.
That did not stop Carson from praising Jefferson in a C-Span interview Sunday as one of the most impressive of the Founding Fathers because he “tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control peoples’ natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”
It’s not the first time Carson has abused Jefferson’s history. “Thomas Jefferson himself said, ‘Gun control works great for the people who are law-abiding citizens and it does nothing for the criminals, and all it does is put the people at risk,’ ” he told Fox’s Neil Cavuto after the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., in early October. Jefferson never said that.
In his book, Carson repeated a version of the same statement, noting what he called “Thomas Jefferson’s warning: ‘Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather than encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
The supposed Jefferson comment on gun control is listed among many “spurious” quotations by the Monticello Web site. “This is not something Jefferson wrote,” say the researchers at Monticello, but rather comes from a passage he included in his “Legal Commonplace Book.” The passage, they note, was written by Cesare Beccaria in his “Essay on Crimes and Punishments” and was copied by Jefferson.
Oddly, Carson’s footnote to the quote duly notes that it comes from Beccaria and not Jefferson.
Republican obsession with all things not true but that play into their views of the world is on full display in the Trump poll numbers. The more outrageously untrue and appalling things that spew out of Trump’s mouth yields a bump up in the polls. I mean, what kind’ve person could get a huge number of the Jewish population volunteering to register as Muslims just to express their outrage at the suggestion we start a database of the nation’s followers of Islam. Trump’s latest outrages include the huge lie that thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks. This earned him another Pinnochio from WAPO’s fact checkers and the NYC police.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You raised some eyebrows yesterday with comments you made at your latest rally. I want to show them, relating to 9/11.
VIDEO CLIP OF DONALD TRUMP, IN WHICH HE SAYS: “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “You know, the police say that didn’t happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak yesterday?”
TRUMP: “It did happen. I saw it.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “You saw that…”
TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: “…with your own eyes?”
TRUMP: “George, it did happen.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “Police say it didn’t happen.”
TRUMP: “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “As I said, the police have said it didn’t happen.”
— Exchange on ABC’s “This Week,” Nov. 22, 2015
This exchange demonstrates the folly of trying to fact-check Donald Trump. Even when confronted with contrary information — “police say it didn’t happen” — he insists that with his own eyes he saw “thousands and thousands” of cheering Arabs in New Jersey celebrating as the World Trade Center collapsed during the Sept. 11 attacks.
Trump has already earned more Four-Pinocchio ratings than any other candidate this year. He is about to earn another one.
The Jersey City Mayor says the “account is absurd” too.
He also is race baiting and just bragged about his audience beating up a Black Lives Matter protester. He upped the ante by tweeting the right wing trope that blacks are murdering blacks with an appalling racist graphic attached. He still has yet to suggest any thing policy related. He seems perfectly happy to just spew vitriol. That is also what the base seems to love. His tweet about black murder rates is definitely creating consternation from every one but the Republican base.
Donald Trump is taking heat on social media for a Sunday afternoon tweet of statistics purporting to show that the vast majority of murdered black people in the U.S. are killed by other black people.
The tweet was apparently Trump’s response to a Twitter thread about support from white supremacists for the GOP front-runner.
It also comes the day after a Black Lives Matter protester said he was physically and verbally assaulted at a Trump rally.
The image Trump posted includes a list of “USA Crime Statistics ~ 2015.” The two that are highlighted are “Blacks Killed by Police ~~ 1%” and “Blacks Killed by Blacks ~~ 97%.”
A drawing of a black man wielding a sideways pistol and wearing army pants, military boots and a bandana and mask accompanies the statistics, which are sourced to the “Crime Statistics Bureau” in San Francisco.
The message immediately took off on the social media platform, with thousands of people retweeting it and liking it within an hour. But many also lashed out angrily against the real estate mogul, calling Trump a racist and questioning the veracity of the stats.
Indeed, an initial search to confirm the numbers couldn’t turn up a “Crime Statistic Bureau” in San Francisco.
However, the percentages do, in some ways, align with Department of Justice (DOJ) findings from several years ago. A DOJ study released in 2011 reported that 93 percent of black homicides were committed by other blacks between 1980 and 2008.
In 2014, that figure was roughly 90 percent in 2014, according to the latest DOJ numbers.
The category tweeted out by Trump that doesn’t fit with DOJ statistics is “Whites Killed by Whites,” which Trump’s tweet indicated was 16 percent.
According to the department’s 2011 report, 84 percent of white homicides were committed by whites between 1980 and 2008. That number was 82 percent in 2014.
Trump has been roundly bashed during his presidential campaign for disparaging comments made about Mexican immigrants, Syrian refugees, Muslims and black people.
We’ve written a lot about the alternative reality were Republicans and their elected officials and candidates reside. I’ve noticed the disconnect is getting worse on many levels. But, again, look at Louisiana. People down here got fed up with it. Maybe the rest of the places that have Republican governors that are beyond delusional–Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan,Indiana etc.–will wake up to what’s actually going on. But then again, take Kentucky.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: September 10, 2015 Filed under: Media, misogyny, morning reads, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
It’s just one thing after another these days. I’m all stressed out again, because my mother broke her clavicle and I need to get out to Indiana ASAP. Unfortunately, I also have to go to the dentist this afternoon and then I have to figure out what to do about the jury duty I committed to in October, get the car checked out, and pack. On top of that my car is due for an inspection sticker at the end of October. I’ll have to try to figure out if I’ll be back here by then or whether I should get the inspection done early.
Anyway, I’m hanging in there, realizing that my problems are nothing compared to so many other people in this crazy world. So what’s happening out there this morning?
Donald Trump continues to dominate the media. The good news is if they’re focusing on him, they can’t beat up on Hillary Clinton at the same time–or can they?
Trump’s misogyny knows no end–yesterday he turned his attention to fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina. From Ken Walsh’s Washington at U.S. News:
Another day, another insult from Donald Trump – and still another feud in the making.
This time, the Republican presidential front-runner belittled former business executive and presidential competitor Carly Fiorina, who has been making gradual progress in the polls but still lags behind Trump in the GOP race.
Rolling Stone magazine reports that Trump was watching Fiorina recently on a television newscast, in the presence of Rolling Stone reporter Paul Solotaroff, when the billionaire real-estate developer said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
Trump added: “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”
Watching Trump run for president is like watching a 5-year-old boy act out with no restraints.
The Guardian reports on Fiorina’s response:
Fiorina, speaking on Fox News to Megyn Kelly – who has also been targeted by Trump – said she considered his remarks to be “very serious”.
She added: “Maybe, just maybe, I’m getting under his skin a little bit because I am climbing in the polls.”
Trump has forged a consistent lead in polling for the Republican candidacy, with former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Fiorina considerably further behind, polling in single figures.
Maybe. Or maybe Trump is just a gigantic asshole. He also attacked Ben Carson and tried without success to defend his comments about Fiorina. From The Washington Post:
Carson attacked Trump in unusually sharp terms yesterday, seeming to question his faith. On Thursday, Trump went after Carson’s energy level — and played down his medical accomplishments, saying he was only an “okay doctor” (Carson was the first neurosurgeon to separate conjoined twins attached at the head.)
“He makes [Jeb] Bush look like the Energizer bunny,” Trump said on CNN Thursday morning. “Who is he to question my faith? … When he questions my faith, and I’m a believer big-league in God, the Bible…I will hit back for that.”
“He was a doctor… perhaps an OK doctor,” he also said, adding that “Ben Carson will not be the next president of the United States.”
Trump’s comments, which are the most aggressive he has made about Carson, come less than a day after the retired surgeon pointed to his faith when asked what he believes to be the biggest difference between himself and Trump.
“The biggest thing is that I realize where my success has come from, and I don’t any way deny my faith in God,” Carson Wednesday night. “And I think that probably is a big difference between us.”
Can you imagine having a president who says things like “I’m a believer big-league in God?” Is this really happening? On Fiorina:
Trump defended his comments on Fox News Thursday morning, dismissing the notion that he was talking about Fiorina’s physical appearance.
“Probably I did say something lik that about Carly,” Trump said. “I’m talking about persona. I’m not talking about look.”
So criticizing a woman’s face is not about her appearance? Yeah, right. Not much of defense. But the media won’t hold Trump accountable no matter what he says.
Meanwhile traditional conservative pundits profess to be utterly mystified by Trump’s success in his “campaign” so far. Brian Beutler at The New Republic: Donald Trump’s Biggest Conservative Enemies Helped Create Him.
Donald Trump’s durable lead in Republican primary polls, and improving approval ratings, continue to befuddle people who ought to have better insight into the state of the conservative mind. Writing for National Review, Jonah Goldberg and Charles C.W. Cooke have each diagnosed Trumpism as a failing of the conservative voters who comprise Trump’s base.
Cooke believes that Trump “has succeeded in convincing conservatives to discard their principles,” begging the question of whether Trump’s supporters ever really shared the principles that animate conservative organizations and National Review writers. Goldberg insisted that “no movement that embraces Trump can call itself conservative,” which helped give rise to #NRORevolt, an online backlash, thick with white nationalists and other conservatives who are fed up with elites who try to write non-conformists—from moderates to protectionists to isolationists to outright racists—out of the movement.
The anti-tax group Club for Growth is a big part of that purification apparatus. It is currently organizing and raising money for an effort to excise Trump before his view that hedge fund managers should pay their fair share in taxes metastasizes through the Republican primary field.
Republican consultant Steve Schmidt, who presumably sympathizes withNational Review and Club for Growth, described their frustrations as the described their frustrations as the result of a fatal disjunction between mass conservatism and the ideology that’s supposed to underlie it. “We’re at this moment in time,” Schmidttold NPR recently, “when there’s a severability between conservatism and issues. Conservatism is now expressed as an emotional sentiment. That sentiment is contempt and anger.”
This explains Trump’s rise and persistence, but fails to account for how“contempt and anger” became such valuable currency in Republican politics today. That omission is predictable, because such an accounting would implicate nearly everyone who now claims to be astonished and dismayed by the Trump phenomenon.
Read the rest at TNR.
A couple of weeks ago, I made a resolution that I would read Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog and Peter Daou and Tom Watson’s #HillaryMen blog every day. I’ve been doing it, and the effort has been paying off in terms of maintaining my equilibrium in an insane media atmosphere.
Silver had a nice, level-headed post on Trump and Bernie Sanders yesterday: Stop Comparing Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders.
A lot of people are linking the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump under headings like “populist” and “anti-establishment.” Most of these comparisons are too cute for their own good — not only because it’s too earlyto come to many conclusions about the campaign, but also because Trump and Sanders are fundamentally different breeds of candidates who are situated very differently in their respective nomination races.
You can call both “outsiders.” But if you’re a Democrat, Sanders is your eccentric uncle: He has his own quirks, but he’s part of the family. If you’re a Republican, Trump is as familial as the vacuum salesman knocking on your door.
Silver lists 7 differences between the two candidates–check them out at the link.
And from #HillaryMen, another sensible post: The Sad, Sisyphean Struggle of Hillary Haters.
Writing for Politico, Jack Shafer explains why he thinks “Being a Clinton apologist is a hard life.”
Which got us thinking: what must it be like to be a die-hard Hillary hater? Obsessing over one of the most accomplished and resilient public figures on the planet? How depressing and demoralizing is it to latch onto fabricated scandal after fabricated scandal, only to have every one fade away?
How frustrating is it to expend so much time and mental energy bashing, bashing, bashing, only to have Hillary come back stronger than ever?
And how awful is it to be on the wrong side of women’s history, to help reinforce the gender barrier that prevents women and girls from realizing their full potential?
We’re not talking about fair-minded critics and principled political opponents. They have every right to disagree with Hillary and to dislike her if they’re so inclined. We’re talking about haters, people who have a pathological need to savage Hillary. People who make an industry of their hate.
Think of the self-righteous rants on Morning Joe, the seething vitriol of Maureen Dowd, the feverish swamps of rightwing trolls. Think of the reporters and pundits who mindlessly repeat Rove-funded frames and narratives, hoping to taint Hillary’s public image, to sully her character. Think of the Republican and conservative operatives who have tried in vain for more than two decades to silence her.
Go over to #HillaryMen to read the rest.
As a bonus, here’s a nice column by Brent Budowsky at The Hill: Big truths about Hillary.
In olden days, great columnists such as Walter Lippmann and James “Scotty” Reston would periodically step back and put great events into perspective.
As America’s summer of political discontent and distemper ends, and as Americans shift from the fun of enjoying our favorite political performer to the mission of selecting our next president and as a pope of epochal significance prepares to address a joint session of a vastly unpopular Congress, let’s look at matters from a larger perspective.
It is revealing that while GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets a pass from many in the media for repeated comments that were verbally abusive toward women, the candidate who would be the first female president, Hillary Clinton, is treated like a pinata by pundits on television news — which, according to Gallup, is one of the least trusted institutions in America.
When Clinton stands with virtually all of America’s democratic allies by forcefully supporting a plan to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and stands with Pope Francis in support of treating refugees and immigrants humanely, she is acting like a stateswoman, commander in chief and humanitarian.
Meanwhile, the policies of GOP presidential candidates would leave Lady Liberty crying in New York Harbor as the pope arrives in America.
It is a big truth that Clinton would be the first female president, an achievement equal in historic magnitude to President Obama becoming our first black president.
If she is elected, moms and dads from Topeka to Tangiers will be telling their daughters that they too can achieve anything if they work hard and dream big.
By contrast, the Republican front-runner describes moms and daughters as fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals and bimbos.
More big truths at the link. The piece is well worth reading.
A bit more news, links only:
Japan Today: More than 100,000 flee floods in eastern Japan; 7 missing.
New York Daily News Exclusive: James Blake, former tennis star, slammed to ground and handcuffed outside midtown hotel by white NYPD cops who mistook him for ID theft suspect.
Chron.com: Baltimore police arrest pastor a week after Gray protests.
The Daily Beast Exclusive: 50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked.
Politico: David Brock: The New York Times has ‘a special place in hell.’
Gawker: Reporter Claims He Was Fired for Asking Louisiana Senator David Vitter About His History With Prostitutes.
CNN: Homo naledi: New species of human ancestor discovered in South Africa.
National Geographic: This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?
What else is happening? Please Share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Thursday.
Posted: March 5, 2015 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton, Media, morning reads, Republican politics, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: Benghazi, Fox News, House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, New York Times, State Department emails, Washington Post
I can’t figure out if the corporate media wants to stop Hillary Clinton from running for president or if they desperately want her to run so they can figuratively flog her with a cat-o-nine-tails and then put her in stocks in front of the Capital building.
The story about Hillary using a private email domain when she was Secretary of State has reached the point of ridiculousness, but the media can’t help themselves–they are and yet the coverage continues to get more heated by the hour. The Hillary haters in the media see blood in the water and they’re circling in hopes of getting their teeth into her.
Sorry for the tortured metaphors, but seriously, what does the media want from this woman?
Check out this story from The Hill reporting on remarks by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. (Chaffetz and former Chairman Darrell Issa have been the leaders of the “investigations” of the Bengazi, IRS, and Fast and Furious non-scandals.)
Asked on “Fox and Friends” whether Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email address during her time as secretary of State raised national security concerns, Chaffetz said, “It does beg the question: Were there any sort of classified pieces of information that were flowing through her personal email account?”
“Which is something you can’t do and something yesterday Gen. Petraeus had to plead guilty to, or was going out in a deal, dealing with his personal email and interaction with somebody who didn’t have a classification,” Chaffetz added….
Petraeus reached a plea deal, the Justice Department announced Tuesday, over charges he failed to turn over for archiving small record books kept while commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan, instead providing them and their classified information to his mistress, Paula Broadwell, who wrote a biography of the Army general.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday, “we have no indication that Secretary Clinton used her personal email account for anything but unclassified purposes,” adding that Clinton used secure phone calls, aides or took other steps to send sensitive messages and has turned over some emails for archiving.
But the Committee will investigate anyway, and yesterday, according to the WaPo, the “Select Committee on Benghazi”
subpoenaed all communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to Libya and to the State Department for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” according to a statement by committee spokesman Jamal Ware. “The Committee also has issued preservation letters to internet firms informing them of their legal obligation to protect all relevant documents.”
Back to The Hill article (emphasis added):
Earlier this week, Chaffetz said his committee would join the House Select Committee on Benghazi to further explore Clinton’s use of personal emails. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of that committee, said Clinton might have to testify several times before the panel, even into 2016.
Chaffetz himself lists a personal gmail address on his “official House card,” according to ABC News, but Chaffetz says that’s different. According to the Hill, when he was asked about the comparison between his use of email and Clinton’s, Chaffetz said, “Well that’s like comparing apples to a boat.”
Read more about the House efforts to bring Hillary down at Bloomberg Politics: House Oversight Committee to ‘Explore’ Clinton’s E-Mail Use, Chairman Says.
At New York Magazine, Frank Rich is deeply concerned.
Do the Democrats Need a Backup Plan for 2016?
Are Clinton’s email shenanigans a federal offense? Probably not. But we still don’t know the whole story, and it seems to be thickening by the minute — notably with a new report from the AP that she was protecting her email by cycling it through her own private email server out of Chappaqua. But the more important question is why the Clintons, who more than anyone in American politics understand the high risks of perceived improprieties, have left Hillary’s campaign so vulnerable even before it is officially out of the gate.
Why in God’s name did they change the name of the Clinton Foundation to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation? That gives Hillary full ownership of a stream of potential conflict-of-interest revelations that have been emerging ever since, notably in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico: that the foundation solicited funds from at least 60 corporations that were lobbying the State Department during her tenure as Secretary of State; that the foundation quietly resumed soliciting donations from foreign governments once she left the State Department; that an Obama Administration ethics framework established to monitor potential conflicts of interest between Bill Clinton’s lucrative foreign speech engagements and State on Hillary’s watch was less-than-exacting.
And one imagines this is only the beginning. At the Post, a lead reporter on the Clinton story is Rosalind S. Helderman, whom some may recall was the dogged investigative journalist whose forensic journalism helped expose the pay-for-play scandal that brought down Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia Governor, and his wife Maureen.
You can check out Rich’s links for more background. Both the Post and the NYT are really pushing this story, but the Post seems even more worked up than the Times. Rich points out that Democrats really don’t have any legitimate alternatives to Clinton. Who are they going to run instead? Martin O’Malley? Jim Webb? Give me a break. And sorry, Emo-Progs,, Elizabeth Warren is not running.
At least one Joe Biden backer sees this new “scandal” as a golden opportunity, according to the Washington Post.
Top Biden backer: Hillary Clinton will ‘die by 1,000 cuts’ on e-mail story.
Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina, home to an early and important presidential primary, said recent reports about Clinton’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business and her family’s charitable foundation accepting donations from foreign governments while she was secretary of state could be damaging to her likely 2016 presidential campaign.
“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary,” Harpootlian said in an interview Wednesday. “Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?… If the e-mails were just her and her family and friends canoodling about fashion and what they’re going to do next week, that’s one thing. But the fact that she’s already turned e-mails to the Benghazi committee because she was doing official business on it means she’s going to die by 1,000 cuts on this one.”
Harpootlian — who has been an active and outspoken booster of a Biden 2016 candidacy — said the foundation donations and e-mail stories have sparked chatter among South Carolina politicos about drafting other candidates into the Democratic primary. Referencing Biden specifically, he said, “I’ll tell you this: He ain’t got no e-mail problems. He ain’t got no foundation problems. What you see with Joe is what you get. There’s nothing hidden there.”
Harpootlian added, “The chatter down here is, ‘Is this the best we can do?’ Certainly everyone wants to give a woman a chance to lead this country, but is [Clinton] the woman? There are plenty of other women who would be competitive, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar or Kirsten Gillibrand.”
Sorry, Dick, those women aren’t running and they wouldn’t be any more competitive than your pal Joe Biden–who has his own past scandals to worry about.
The Wall Street Journal says “some Democrats” are “troubled” about the new Hillary “scandals.” Yes, I’m sure they are. Sometimes I think there are more Clinton-haters among Democrats than Republicans. WSJ reports:
Some Democrats are uneasy about the reports involving Hillary Clinton ’s use of a private email account during her time as secretary of state and her foundation’s fundraising practices, calling on her to break her silence and personally address the two controversies.
Some party figures say the recent disclosures show a need for Democratic rivals to step forward and challenge Mrs. Clinton for a nomination that has long seemed to be hers for the asking.
At least one of these “uneasy” Democrats was willing to use his name.
Don Paulson, chairman of the Muscatine County Democrats in Iowa, said he was disturbed by the Clinton Foundation’s practice of accepting donations from foreign governments at a time when Mrs. Clinton was preparing a campaign for the White House. He saw that as one reason why the party should vet her and other candidates in a competitive primary, rather than allow her to coast to the nomination without a real fight. “It’s a healthier thing all around if there’s competition,” he said.
I’m sure Muscatine County Chairman is a Very Important Job, so we’d better being paying close attention to Mr. Paulson. Or not.
The WSJ admits that “Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement…was legal while she served as the nation’s top diplomat,” but never mind that. It’s still so “troubling” and it makes people so “uneasy.” They do include the names of two more disapproving Democrats:
Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who has worked on six presidential campaigns, said of the email account: “She needs to explain why she did what she did. I do think it’s a real issue, and I think it’s an issue that has to get dealt with on a serious level.”
“I don’t think it’s something a junior staffer can put out a statement and expect the thing to go away,” he said.
Kim Weaver, chairman of the O’Brien County Democrats in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential contest, said: “The questions need to be answered.” She added she would like to hear whether the personal email system Mrs. Clinton used carried adequate security protections. “If it’s no big deal, why not just come out and say what it is.”
It seems that Iowa Democrats are particularly upset.
But will any of this matter to voters in November of 2016? Brendan Nyhan of the NYT blog The Upshot doesn’t think so. He notes that most Americans aren’t thinking about the 2016 presidential campaign yet, and when they do, attitudes toward toward the “email furor” will likely break down along partisan lines.
Of course that won’t stop his newspaper from running story after story about it on their front page while they ignore the potential loss of health insurance for 8,000,000 Americans along with other important world events.
One more from Business Insider:
Former State Department officials explain why the Clinton email ‘scandal’ is ridiculous.
According to the State Department, Hillary Clinton’s use of a personalized email address during her time as secretary of state was no secret.
“The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records — including emails between her and Department officials with state.gov accounts,” State Department Deputy Spokesperon Marie Harf said in an email to Business Insider….
Business Insider reached out to Clinton’s representatives. They put us in touch with two former State Department officials who argued that Clinton was careful to use the address in a manner that went above and beyond regulatory requirements and ensured her communications were preserved.
The former officials, who requested anonymity to freely discuss Clinton’s emails and State Department policy, echoed the notion the former secretary’s personalized email address was not kept secret. They said she used it to communicate with over 100 department staffers, other officials, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill….
Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill issued a statement in response to the article wherein he argued Clinton corresponded with people on their government account whenever she conducted official business….”Like Secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any Department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their Department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained,” Merrill said.
Guess what? John Kerry is the first Secretary of State to use a government email account! Colin Power also used a private account during the Bush Administration.
The two former officials said efficiency was one reason Clinton set up her own address. At the time, State Department policy would not have allowed her to have multiple email addresses on her Blackberry. Because of this, the officials said, she opted to have one address for both personal and governmental communications. They echoed Merrill’s statement and said Clinton took care to correspond with other State officials exclusively on their governmental addresses. The officials said this meant all of her emails and those sent to her were immediately preserved on government servers.
According to the two officials, regulations discouraged the use of personal email but did not prohibit it. Merrill also argued that Clinton’s use of private email was not against the rules.
“Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” he said.
So far, Hillary herself has only responded on Twitter:
So . . . . there are lots of important stories out there today. Which ones are you following?